History of Quonset

Quonset Point Naval Air Station (N.A.S. Quonset) was established as part of the Lend-Lease Act of 1941, shortly before the US entered World War II.  It served as the major northeastern naval base during the war and subsequent years.  During its heyday Quonset's workforce, combined with that of the adjacent Davisville Construction Battalion Center, was the largest in the state of Rhode Island.

The Navy established the Construction Battalion Center at Davisville (N.C.B.C. Davisville) less than a year after Quonset was completed.  Unbeknownst to many, the Davisville area of Quonset used to be home to the thriving, 370-acre Romano Farm and Vineyards.  Davisville would become the birthplace of the 'Seabees' a portion of service people in the U.S. Navy tasked with building bases, creating roadways and airstrips and numerous other construction projects during conflicts dating back to World War II.   It was the Davisville Seabees and their innovative problem solving skills that led to the creation of what is now known as the Quonset hut.

During the Second World War, Quonset was involved in the development of a naval night fighter aircraft. After the war, Quonset Point saw depletion in ships on the base. It then went on to become a Naval Air Rework Facility, where it specialized in reciprocating engines and repaired and manufactured naval aircrafts.

Like other WWII-era military installations across the country, Quonset Point fell victim to military budget cuts during the Nixon years. The Quonset base was decommissioned on June 28, 1974. The Navy declared most of Quonset Point surplus to its needs and the land and buildings were offered to the State of Rhode Island and North Kingstown for civilian use.

Though Davisville avoided Quonset's fate and managed to remain functional through the 1970's, activity gradually tapered off as the military's strategic focus shifted toward the Pacific Ocean. By the 1980s, Davisville's facilities had been stripped back to a skeleton crew and many of its buildings were sealed.  Davisville was selected for closure during the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC 1991) program and operational closure occurred on April 1, 1994. 

Following their closures, the land at Quonset and Davisville was managed and developed by various state entities until the Quonset Development Corporation (QDC) was created by the Rhode Island General Assembly on July 1, 2004 (RIGL 42-64.9), which became effective on January 1, 2005.  

The Transformation of Quonset Point