About the Warwick Center for the Arts (WCFA)
The Warwick Center for the Art’s core commitment is to serve as a center dedicated to uniting the community through the arts. We connect all ages and abilities to a variety of arts activities through exhibits, educational programs and cultural experiences. Emerging and established artists will find a unique and inviting space in which to share their creative vision with the community.
To connect people of all ages and abilities to a variety of affordable arts and cultural experiences.
Be a dynamic resource that encompasses all aspects of the arts and provide for the exciting exchange of idea to create enriching experiences and contribute to the quality of life within the State of Rhode Island.
Warwick Center for the Arts (WCFA) has long recognized its crucial role in maintaining a platform of dialogue and expression for the diverse populations in the region. This principle extends in direct fashion to the organization’s Board of Directors, which encourages and welcomes the active participation of any dedicated and upright member of the community regardless of age, ability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, race, religion, or socio-economics.
History of the Building
Kentish Artillery Armory
Formed as the Kentish Light Infantry in 1797 at the recommendation of General George Washington, the group later became known as the Kentish Artillery Company & Armory. Warwick gave the Kentish Artillery permission to build its armory on the eastern portion of the town lot in 1854. Over a century later the building was given to the city.
The original Greek revival structure was destroyed by fire in 1911.The current hall has the distinction of being listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed by architects William R. Walker & Son, designers of the Warwick City Hall and built in 1912.
Two Revolutionary War cannons were given to the Kentish Artillery in 1804, and the building featured two cannon niches on both sides of the front door when constructed. The cannons now located in the niches are replicas because the originals disappeared in 1972 and have never been recovered.
The Kentish Guards, photo by Patty Martucci
History of the Organization
About the Warwick Museum
In 1974 members of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (Warwick Chapter) approached City Hall with the idea of creating a museum as part of the American Bicentennial Celebration project. The women worked with City Hall and members of the community to secure a suitable space, establish a board, write bylaws and mount a historical exhibit for its 1976 opening.
The City of Warwick provided exhibit space at the Pontiac Mill complex, which was procured by then Mayor Gene McCaffrey. In 1977, upon the death of the last surviving member of the Kentish Guard, the Kentish Artillery Armory, a National Historic Landmark, was deeded to the city. The local Boys’ Club moved out of the Armory and the City then rented it to the Warwick Museum of Art, where it has remained ever since. Museum board members and supporters renovated the empty space, and The Museum officially moved to its new (and current) home in 1977. After strong public interest in art, the name was changed to the Warwick Art Museum. In 1997, the name changed to the Warwick Museum of Art (WMOA) and then, in 2015, to align with the organization’s mission to be a central resource for the arts in the community, the name changed to Warwick Center for the Arts (WCFA).
In 2008 the main gallery was renovated with a generous grant from The Champlin Foundations. Additional support from The Champlin Foundations renovated the lower level hall, art classroom, bathroom, kitchen, and storage areas. In 2014, LED lighting was added to the main gallery, and a new HVAC system was installed thanks to another grant from The Champlin Foundations.
For over forty five years the dedicated volunteers and staff at Warwick Center for the Arts have served dutifully to preserve and protect the historic building and keep it accessable to all ages and abilities!