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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Praise and support for General Stanton Inn campaign from the folks who saved the Historic Narragansett Towers

Similarities between effort to save the General Stanton Inn and their fight to save the Towers
David E. Ousterhout, President, Friends of the Historic Narragansett Towers, Inc.

I am a former member of the Narragansett Town Council and President of the Friends of the Towers. 

Twenty eight years ago I became involved with a group of Narragansett residents who came together for the purpose of developing a plan to restore, preserve and renovate the Historic Narragansett Towers for use by the public. 

At that time The Towers, as it is known today, was a deteriorating monument to Narragansett’s past history and did not provide any useful benefit to the public. 

While it was owned by the Town, there was no clear vision for it and there was a reluctance to even spend the necessary funds for simple maintenance and preservation efforts. 

Today The Towers stands as testimony to what a motivated group of citizens can accomplish when encouraged and supported by their local government.  It has become an iconic reminder of Narragansett’s history and a very busy venue for both public and private events, attracting visitors and providing a source of new business to local merchants.

Capital restoration and renovation funds were provided over the years by the Town of Narragansett, Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission grants, fundraising activities and allocation of excess revenue from its operations. 

It has not been a financial burden to the Town and, other than modest investments in capital repairs and improvements, has always paid its own way.

The management and operation of The Towers is slightly more complicated than the current proposal for Charlestown’s General Stanton Inn, but it serves as evidence that a publicly owned historic resource managed by a dedicated local non-profit organization can be a successful operating model. 

Save the General Stanton Inn! Photo by Will Collette
The key to success is the “partnership agreement” between the local non-profit, Friends of the General Stanton Inn, and the Town of Charlestown, proposed owner of the property.  Both parties to the agreement need to have alignment of their goals and objectives.

I would suggest that the General Stanton Inn is as significant to the history of Charlestown as The Towers is to Narragansett. 

On June 6th the voters of Charlestown will have the opportunity to ensure that the Inn is preserved for future generations and becomes a valuable public resource for the community. 

Failure to support this preservation effort could result in possible loss of the Inn as we all know it and with it, a valuable part of Charlestown’s and Rhode Island’s history. 

Supporting this effort for preservation and use of the Inn as an historic public resource says a lot about the residents of Charlestown and their community spirit.