An iconic archway to the past and future has finally been restored to its full glory.
For decades, the 60 foot tall Rocky Point Arch has stood as a proud sentinel overlooking Narragansett Bay. One of 11 General Foods “Peace Through Understanding” archways that once graced the grounds of the 1964-65 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York, it is now one of only four that are known to exist.
While it’s unclear exactly when the arch was brought to the former amusement park, it was used as an entranceway and a gathering spot for generations of families and friends. When the park closed in the mid 1990s, the arch remained behind, left to slowly decay from weather, salt air, and vandals.
Time had not been kind, and the once gleaming structure slowly turned brown and black with rust.
But thanks to efforts by the Rocky Point Foundation, the Rhode Island Foundation, the Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce and the City of Warwick, the recently repainted and fully restored arch now shines like never before.
“It’s a beautiful day to be here at Rocky Point to celebrate this latest milestone for the park, this arch truly represents a piece of our history,” said Mayor Scott Avedisian at Monday’s press conference held under the arch. “It’s been roughly 20 years since the park closed, but I know I’m not alone when I say how proud I am of the progress that’s been made to bring it back to life. The restoration of the arch marks another milestone for Rocky Point, and brings with it a hint of old-world charm the park once knew.”
The Rhode Island Foundation, as part of their Centennial Community Grants program marking their 100th anniversary, recently provided grants to each Rhode Island city and town. Earlier this year, the Rocky Point Foundation was awarded more than $5,200 to fund a project that painted and restored the arch.
“This wonderful arch, which represents continuity but also strength, and with that flag flying, has a special poignancy,” said Sen. Jack Reed. “We are working today to make this accessible to the people of Warwick and the state of Rhode Island, and also to build on the memories we all treasure with new memories.”
The City of Warwick agreed to take on the painting project, with most of the work done by Blane Toedt of the Department of Public Works. The Rocky Point Foundation provided funding for the paint and rental of bucket truck equipment thanks to the Rhode Island Foundation’s grant and with contributions raised by the Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce.
The arch now shines in stark white with light blue accents that can easily be seen from far and wide.
“Today is a great day for reflecting on this transition from the residue and the wreckage of the great days of the past to a new future which I think this arch embodies, there’s lots more to be done here and lots of progress ahead,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. “May today be a turning point towards a great Rocky Point future.”
Later this year, thanks to a project spearheaded by Leadership Rhode Island, interpretive signs will also be placed throughout the park pointing out where historic rides and structures used to be.
“Today we are here to bridge this gap between the past and the present and to honor the park’s history and to also now celebrate its future for which we are all excited. This arch is a symbol of Rocky Point as it was and as it will be,” said Rep. Jim Langevin. “Today’s unveiling is another milestone in the ongoing transformation of a place that has and will continue to bring so much joy to Rhode Islanders.”
The state has also budgeted for the construction of a fishing pier at the park to replace the remains of the longtime dock on the property, with work expected to begin within the next few years. The Department of Environmental Management also looks to extend the parks bike and walking paths in the near future.
“This is iconic, it is a bridge to the past and the future. It’s a place for everybody to enjoy and to celebrate,” said Rhode Island Foundation president and CEO Neil Steinberg of the arch. “We look forward to seeing the park restored to its former glory, with many people using it, and that it lasts with us for another 100 years.”
Avedisian also stated at the ceremony that the city was recently a recipient of two grants, one for City Park and the other for Rocky Point, and the administration will be detailing what the grant for Rocky Point will entail as planning continues. He also mentioned that the next big park project would include painting the remains of the Skyliner, the park’s former ski lift ride, which has suffered from the same ravages as the arch.
“I think this is the beginning of more good things to come,” said John Howell, president of the Rocky Point Foundation.