Newport, RI - After months of negotiations and waiting for the approval process, the sale of the top two floors of the Armory building, a Newport landmark on Lower Thames Street, is now complete and will become the new home of the National Sailing Hall of Fame.
The Rhode Island state Commerce Corporation brought the National Sailing Hall of Fame one step closer to moving from Annapolis, Maryland, to Newport with the approval of a $200,000 grant to hall of fame organizers.
The grant, under the state’s First Wave Closing Fund, helped the hall close on the $1.6 million purchase of the Newport Armory from the City of Newport, according to hall President Gary Jobson, who presented the project to the board of the Commerce Corporation, the state agency charged with fostering economic development.
“This is Rhode Island’s birthright,” said Jobson, who cited Newport as the birthplace of the U.S. Naval Academy and longtime home of the America’s Cup yacht races. A long road to get to this point, Jobson said the first discussions about moving to Newport began in March 2017. The National Sailing Hall of Fame had been trying for more than a decade to build a museum in Annapolis, where it has been leasing space.
Jobson said that the hall has raised or received pledges for about $3.5 million of the project’s estimated total of $4.3 million to $4.5 million cost. Costs besides the purchase price of the building include $1.5 million for renovations and $1 million for exhibits. Construction on the conversion of the building into a museum and exhibit space isn’t set to happen until the fall, with the museum opening next spring.
“We are excited to take this important step in our move into our new home at the Newport Armory,” said Gary Jobson, president of the hall of fame. “We are grateful to the City of Newport and the State of Rhode Island for their support at this defining moment for our organization, and we look forward to creating a dynamic showcase for our sport and its heroes.”
The historic Armory building has been a Newport landmark since 1894. One of three similar buildings, it initially housed the local militia before being used by the state National Guard and U.S. Naval Reserve. From the 1960s through the 1980s, it was used as a press center during the America’s Cup and has been the home of the Newport Maritime Center since 2012.