BASE: Advancing a post-military landscape
 Project description

Quonset Point

 Admin. Triangle
 W'house Triangle
 Camp Endicott
 Camp Thomas

 Adv. Base Depot

 Adv. Base Proving
 West Davisville


Historic images

Quonset hut


Advance Base Depot

Playground at the Dogpatch area; married officers' housing.


After a section of fence near Bldg. 41 was removed we were able to descend the small hill leading down into the Advance Base Depot, a broad, open, overgrown area that extends from Davisville Road down to Narragansett Bay. Rather than the anticipated marshy field, we found fissured macadam and rail spurs extending down toward the water. Grass and low bushes had obscured acres of pavement where Davisville's outgoing shipments of supplies and machinery were once stored. The seawall at the far end of the depot had begun to erode, causing large sink holes to open in the perimeter road. South of the seawall a grassy shoreline curves around toward the runways and hangars of Quonset in the distance.

Bldg. 40, a gable roof warehouse located in the pier area of Advance Base Depot, served as the primary staging area for all supplies and equipment destined for Operation Deepfreeze, a project which sought ways to exploit Antarctica's strategic military potential. From 1970-1974 Bldg. 40 served Project Reindeer, the last major military mission at Davisville and also the base's last hope for continued operation. Though Bldg. 40 is currently unused, nearby Pier #1 currently serves Norad, an automobile shipping operation.


Common names of species observed in woods and steams, Dogpatch Site

black oak
wild grape

Stream Bank
virginia creeper
poison ivy
sensitive fern
arrow wood

smooth cordgrass
reed grass

From the Final Environmental Impact Statement for Disposal and Reuse/Redevelopment of the Former Naval Construction Battalion Center, Davisville, Rhode Island, 1994

Approaching a lone house set at the edge of the Advance Base Depot's storeyards, we came upon the Dogpatch site late one afternoon. Though the house appeared to be in good shape, a closer inspection revealed several boarded windows, a rusted barbecue, and, finally, a "secured" sign nailed to the front door. Over the rise of a small hill were several Cape-style houses, all with the same look of recent abandonment. If not for the Navy-assigned building numbers, it could have been a beachfront community secluded in the midst of Davisville's industrial landscape.

Dogpatch is virtually invisible from the rest of the base, screened from the north by a thick line of trees, from the south and west by Quonset's airfields, and set against a small cove. The extant neighborhood was created from ten white clapboard cottages that were relocated from the earlier Shore Acres development. With its rolling lawns, playground, bus shelter and elegant willow trees, Dogpatch provided a suburban-type environment for married officers and their families.

The Dogpatch neighborhood originally extended south along the shoreline on Broadway. In 1977 a boundary line was drawn to delineate the property of Quonset Point's decommissioned Naval Air Station from the active Seabee center at Davisville. This boundary effectively cut off Broadway's shorefront cottages from the rest of the Dogpatch community, and they fell into neglect. The contrast between the two zones now is dramatic. Broken windows and fallen roofs have left houses on the Quonset side of the boundary open to the elements, and encroaching vines are slowing pulling several to the ground. Others have been destroyed in practice fires staged by local fire departments. In contrast, most of the houses on the Davisville side convey a sense of having been left only recently, as though the inhabitants could return any moment.

The day after our discovery of Dogpatch, vandals broke into one of the larger cottages and burned it down. The violence of this act placed this oddly sheltered and idyllic neighborhood in the larger context of the real, inhabited neighborhoods surrounding the base — neighborhoods which have become less prosperous since its closure.

© Copyright 2000 Erik Carlson and Erica Carpenter     Top