Quonset Point Naval Air Station 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. Like other WWII-era military installations across the country, Quonset Point fell victim to military budget cuts (and, some believed, party politics) during the Nixon years. The base was decommissioned on June 28, 1974.
Though some of Quonset's military buildings were demolished following the base's closure in the late 70s, numerous remaining structures still convey the magnitude of this former military "city." The Quonset Point of 1999-2000 was characterized by monumentally scaled buildings, offset by wide open spaces where other buildings once stood. Some of the remaining structures, including Seaplane Hangar #1 and the Enlisted Barracks, were designed by renowned industrial architect Albert Kahn and are among southern Rhode Island's architecturally significant structures. Most of Quonset's extant buildings, however, are smaller structures of a basic utilitarian type, and while a number of larger buildings appear to have gained a foothold in Quonset Point's redevelopment plan, these structures are rapidly disappearing from the landscape.