IYRS aims to quadruple its facilities

NEWPORT, R.I. – The International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS), a school and center for maritime preservation based in Newport, has received a leadership gift for the restoration of the 1831 Aquidneck Mill Building, it reported in a statement today.

A grant of $100,000 from the Alletta Morris McBean Charitable Trust, San Mateo, Calif., will help IYRS target toward a 2005 start-date on the project. The restoration of the Mill Building, a 30,000-square-foot structure located on the school's campus, will quadruple the school's facilities, IYRS stated.

"We are delighted to give to this excellent project," said Noreen Drexel, president of the trust. "I hope it will be a catalyst for others to support this educational opportunity. The International Yacht Restoration School has proven to be, to people all over the country, of tremendous interest."

"This leadership grant is significant to the school, for many reasons," said IYRS President Terry Nathan. "If our fund-raising efforts meet our projections, we hope to begin the building's physical restoration before next summer. Also, we are fortunate to have a core group of supporters who believe passionately in our mission, but the generosity of the Alletta Morris Trust signals a shift – that IYRS is becoming recognized for its mission by a wider group of supporters."

The Aquidneck Mill, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was acquired by IYRS in 1995 in the hope of restoring the building for future school use. A growing demand for IYRS's full-time program in classic yacht restoration has created more urgency to expand facilities: the current class size reflects a 35-percent increase over last year's student body.

Working with Newport Collaborative Architects, the building will be open to the public and will include classroom and workshop space, a visitor's center and display gallery, an assembly hall for lectures, a library, a retail shop, and staff offices. The projected budget is $5.8 million. The physical restoration of the structure is slated to take two years.

IYRS's effort to find a new use for the Mill Building goes well beyond a pragmatic need for more space. According to Nathan, the restoration is part of the school's mission to preserve Newport's working waterfront and integral to the values of preservation and restoration the school works to impart to its students.

"Any time our students can work in a building that reflects a comparable set of values, I think it's a plus," said Nathan. "It definitely enriches their experience."

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