Rhode Island Colonial Charter of 1663 to Receive State-of-the-Art Encasement

Rhode Island Colonial Charter of 1663 to Receive State-of-the-Art Encasement

Science Developed by the National Institute of Standards & Technology To Preserve Colonial Charter of 1663 Well Into the Future.

Governor Lincoln D. Chafee together with Rhode Island Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis announced that the process has begun to provide for a new state-of-the-art encasement system for the Rhode Island Colonial Charter of 1663.

“I am pleased that the most important document in our State's history is going to be protected and conserved for generations,” Governor Lincoln D. Chafee said. “The Colonial Charter was the first to establish separation of Church and State, and became the inspiration for our Bill of Rights a century later. Preserving our historic resources demonstrates our commitment to preserving and protecting Rhode Island history. I commend the Secretary of State's Office and the Rhode Island 1663 Colonial Charter Commission for their efforts to bring this project to fruition,” said Governor Chafee.
This morning, ARTEX, a fine arts moving company, wrapped, crated and transported the Charter, in an environmentally controlled vehicle, to Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) in Andover, Massachusetts with a state police escort.  ARTEX built a custom crate for packaging and transporting the Charter.

“I am pleased to announce that Rhode Island's Colonial Charter of 1663 will be housed within the same high-tech system used by the National Archives for the Charters of Freedom.  It is imperative that we carefully preserve our Colonial Charter, which is our state's most profound and historic document; a document which gave us the religious freedom we all enjoy today, and a document which defines our state's unique heritage,” said Mollis. 

NEDCC is world renowned and performed conservation work on the Charter in 1996, during the Langevin Administration.  At that time, a new inner-display case within the steel vault was constructed.

Over the next two weeks, NEDCC will remove the Charter from its current mounting, and make a full scan, and create a digital print of the same size.  Once the full-size reproduction of the Charter is ready, it will be mounted into the window-mat and frame assemblage for public viewing in the Charter Museum at the State House. 

The Charter Museum will remain open to the public during normal business hours.  The reproduction is expected to be up and available for public viewing, after Veterans' Day.

To see a rendering of what the new encasements will look like, please see the images attached to this press release. 

At NEDCC the Charter will be separated into its three original sections and full-scale tracings of the three sections will be produced.  NEDCC will perform conservation treatment on the Charter, including humidification and flattening. 

The state has an agreement with Goso LLC of New Hampshire to build three encasements for the Rhode Island Charter.  The encasements will enclose the Charter in an environment of modified inert gas, and include instrumentation for monitoring the gas, and be designed in a manner to interface, mechanically and aesthetically, into display cabinetry. 

ARTEX will reconfigure the custom-made crate for transporting the 3 sections of the original Charter to the State Archives, where they will be stored until the encasements are ready for installation in the Charter Museum. 

“We look forward to seeing the Charter in its new encasements,” said Mollis. 

$200,000 of the $700,000 project cost is being funded through grants and charitable contributions.  The Champlin Foundation awarded a $161,000 grant to the Rhode Island State House Restoration Society to fund the construction of one of the encasements.  Additionally, the State House Restoration Society received donations from Alex and Ani, the Providence Journal Charitable Fund, Fidelity Investments, Cox Business, Amica Mutual Insurance Company, Roger Williams University, GTECH, and CVS Health. Individual contributions from the John L. Loeb Foundation, the Ford Family Foundation, and Ambassador William J. Middendorf also helped support this project. $500,000 was allocated to the Secretary of State's Office from the General Assembly for FY2015. The aluminum blocks, which will be used to fabricate a portion of each of the encasements, is being donated by Electric Boat.  Sandberg Machine of Mapleville, R.I, is performing the machining of this material.  Also, the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth's Archives Division is lending the state the necessary equipment to fill the encasements with specialized gases, and sealing it, and also provided tremendous insight into the process of building the encasements. 

Rhode Island's Colonial Charter of 1663 is our state's most profound historic document, and holds a unique place in the evolution of global human rights.  At the time King Charles II issued the Charter in 1663, it was the first time in history that a monarch granted a charter guaranteeing that individuals within a society were free to practice religious freedom and possessed the right to govern their own colony without interference from the government, and it defined our state's rich heritage.  The Colonial Charter of 1663 gave us the religious freedom we still enjoy today. 

(release from Secretary of State's Office)