Park Avenue Armory

Top 10 Historic National Guard Armories

When I first moved to Puerto Rico, I was given a site seeing tour. On our way to the huge Fort that protected Puerto Rico from may attempts to capture the island, I always notice in Old San Juan, a cool structure that now houses Puerto Rico Army National Guard recruitment offices. It is an old armory and provides a distinctive “touch to the surroundings… The Atlantic Ocean on one side and Old San Juan, Puerto Rico on the other.

The Army National Guard has a history that goes back to the start of the United States of America. And throughout all these years, there have been a lot of National Guard Armories built and used. Many have been given up by the National Guard and either set empty or are used for other purposes.

In today’s post, we will look at the top 10 historic National Guard Armories. You may want to visit and photograph these historic armories. I will start at #10 and work up to #1. Feel free to leave your comments at the end of this post.

#10: Pine Bluff, Arkansas

arkansas

This armory in the heart of Pine Bluff was built in 1931. It has 2 stories and is a masonry building in Jefferson County.

In 1974, this National Guard Armory was shut down and it now is used as classrooms for a Vocational School.

#9: Savannah, Georgia

georgia

It was built back in 1892 and held the Savannah Volunteer Guard. No longer a National Guard Armory, the building was taken over by the Savannah College of Art and Design. It was originally called Preston Hall but is now known as Poetter Hall.

This magnificent structure is home to May Poetter Gallery, SCADStory and shopSCAD. It is cool how these National Guard armories can be used in education.

#8: Tampa, Florida

florida

It is called Fort Homer W. Hesterly Armory and was built in the 1930’s during the Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. For years it housed both Florida National Guard and Reserves.

In 2001, it was decided to replace the Armory and a new one was built at Pinellas Park.

This historic armory has been the site of many entertainment projects. They included:

  • Elvis
  • President Kennedy
  • Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Pink Floyd
  • The Doors
  • and many more

It is now home to the Tampa Jewish Community Center and Federation.

#7: Defiance, Ohio

ohio

It was home to the 148th Infantry Regiment who have participated in World War I, II, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Joint Guardian and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Now headquartered in Walbridge, Ohio, the armory at Defiance was listed as historic. It was built in 1914.

#6: Villisca, Iowa

Iowa

Located in Southwestern Iowa, Villisca has had many active military units grace the town. A highly patriotic community, the locals funded this armory in 1913.

Used for Iowa National Guard, it was also the high school gymnasium until 1959. In 2000, the building was given to the Villisca public school system and has been used for classrooms, athletic functions and storage.

This armory is listed on the Register of Historic Places.

#5: Deming, New Mexico

new mexico

It was the first National Guard Armory to be built in New Mexico after it became a State. This armory was built with the purpose of training soldiers to guard the border during the Mexican Revolution.

Not only was the armory used for soldiers, dances, basketball games and other community functions were held at the armory.

In the 1970’s, the town of Deming turned the armory into a museum that many people say is well worth visiting.

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#4: Fort Mill, South Carolina

south carolina

Built in 1938 to benefit the South Carolina National Guard. It has a unique design as you can see. I cannot find much more info on this architecture except that it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.

#3: Louisville, Kentucky

Kentucky

The National Guard armory built in 1905 in Louisville, Kentucky has been well used.

First as a training and headquarters of the Kentucky National Guard, this structure is now named Louisville Gardens.

It has and is still used for many sport’s and entertainment venues. Louisville Cardinals basketball teams played there for a long time and both Martin Luther King Jr. and President Harry Truman gave speeches in this historic building.

#2: Washington D.C.

washington dc

It is known as the D.C. Armory and was built in 1941. It served as the headquarters, armory, and training facility for the District of Columbia National Guard.

This monstrous facility is located close to RFK Stadium and has been used for many entertainment and sporting events.

#1: Park Avenue Armory

Park Avenue Armory

This was a privately funded armory built in 1880 and primarily used by what was known as the Silk Stocking Regiment. The 7th New York Militia Regiment was made up of some of the elite of New York and the surrounding area.

Even Louis Comfort Tiffany designed one room… The library or “Trophy Room.”

If in New York, you really should pay a visit to this historic structure.

Final Thoughts

The designs of so many National Guard armories are unique and magnificent.

Do you have an old Armory in your locale?

Tell us about it.

I hope you enjoyed this post and as I mentioned, I live in Puerto Rico where this cool Fort is located. Not far from here is a historic National Guard Armory.

el morro

Come visit and enjoy the sites.

References

  1. https://www.nationalguard.mil/portals/31/Documents/About/Publications/Documents/Still%20Serving%20-%20National%20Guard%20Armories.pdf
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Guard_Armory

About The Author

Greg Boudonck is a full time freelance writer and the author of over 50 books. He served in the United States Army in the early 1980’s and enjoys writing about military subjects. You can see Greg’s books on Amazon by searching his name and you can also visit his website at Lancerlife.com.

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