Army National Guard Readiness Centers (formerly Armories)
What is it?
The Army National Guard (ARNG) has become increasingly aware that the approximately 2,996 ARNG readiness centers nationwide represent national and community treasures. From architectural innovations to community outreach and educational events, readiness centers are part of the fabric of our nation. Like the community fire house, the readiness center has become a symbol and a centerpiece of national esprit de corps since 9/11. With worldwide mobilizations and demobilizations, readiness centers have frequently become emotionally packed theaters of Family farewells and yellow ribbon welcome home celebrations. Readiness centers constitute perhaps the most tangible and visible stateside symbol of the citizen Soldier serving his or her community and nation.
What has the Army done?
Recent and historically noteworthy accomplishments and activities include:
- The Dawson, Minnesota Armory, built in the 1920s, was converted to a community center/library/apartment complex, winning a City Achievement Award from the League of Minnesota Cities.
- The State Historic Preservation Office in Kentucky assisted the Kentucky National Guard in preserving and repairing damaged brickwork on the National Register–listed State Arsenal Building, built in 1850. The building now serves as the Kentucky Military History Museum.
- Nancy L. Todd wrote New York’s Historic Armories, a book tracing the evolution of the armory as a specific building type in American architecture and military history. This was the result of ten-year collaboration between the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation and the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs.
- Renovations, compliant with the National Historic Preservation Act and the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Rehabilitation, are currently under way at the District of Columbia Armory, built in 1941.
- What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
Many readiness centers have already been converted to other establishments, and a few are scheduled for preservation, restoration, or reuse in the near future. Planned projects include:
- A nationwide historic context about the history of the National Guard’s readiness centers will be completed during 2008 and will be available to those researching and evaluating these building types.
- Readiness centers, both those owned by the Army and those now owned by other institutions, are able to apply for funds through the “Save America’s Treasures” program, which helps protect America’s threatened cultural resources while fostering pride, educating the public, and stimulating broad-scale public involvement.
- A Nationwide Programmatic Agreement will be completed during 2008 in accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act. This document will streamline the review process necessary for construction and repair work at historic readiness centers owned by the National Guard.
- The Arizona National Guard is working on a general interest, color-illustrated 30- to 40-page historical booklet about the history of Camp Navajo, a National Register Historic District and a significant example of ammunition depots built across the United States during World War II.
- Most modern day readiness centers are practical suburban buildings with plenty of parking rather than high-rise urban buildings in the heart of a city.
Why is this important to the Army?
With smaller numbers of Americans serving in the military than in the past, community impressions of military service are more frequently based on links to the local readiness centers. The preservation of ARNG traditions, community relations, and history through readiness centers and other installations is a foundation for morale in these communities, making them a critical element of recruiting and retaining Soldiers.
Web site: http://www.armorycenter.org/history1.htm