Nineteenth century armory for sale

Glens Falls State Armory, postcard, 1907New York State put the Glens Falls Armory up for auction today. The minimum bid for these 38,000 square feet of turreted awesomeness is $500,000.

The armory was built in Romanesque Revival style by state architect Isaac Perry in 1894.

The outside of the three story building is brick, slate and metal; inside it is timber construction. The corner tower is 65 feet high with a battlemented parapet. When built, the Drill Hall, located on the first floor, had gas lights. The Mezzanine Floor consists of a wooden locker-room, built at the turn of the century. There are also offices throughout the facility. The Drill Hall, where soldiers gather for formations, has also been used for public functions.

Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? That’s intentional. According to Michael Aikey, director of the New York State Military Museum, these ponderous structures were built intentionally to convey state power. At the turn of the century, there was a lot of civil unrest. Lots of labour strife, lots of packed tenements, a few very rich people, lots of very poor people. President McKinley was assassinated in Buffalo, New York, just 6 years after the Glens Falls Armory opened its doors.

2ndfloorbrshowerNow the National Guard does more overseas than in the state, and National Guard units are leaving old timey armories and moving to “readiness centers”. The Glens Falls unit is moving to a suburban industrial park. Boring, but the bathrooms will probably work a lot better.

Like many other New York state armories, the Glens Falls Armory is on the National Register of Historic Places, but that places no limits on what sort of renovations get done*. As charming as the building is, it’s also a huge labyrinthine collection of crappy acoustic tile drop ceilings and linoleum corridors.

Whoever buys it is going to have to invest major money into converting it to some other use. Other decommissioned armories have been converted into community centers, antiquities markets, science museums, even caterers.

Susan and Manfred Phemister spent hundreds of thousands of dollars converting an 1890s armory into their personal home, a bed and breakfast and a meeting venue. They bought it off of eBay, believe it or not, and are now putting it up for sale for almost twice what they paid for it.

I’ve waited all day for the results of the Glens Falls Armory auction, but so far no news on how much it went for. I’ll update when I hear.

UPDATE: John Warren of the New York History blog reports that nobody bid on the armory. I know it’s a lot to take on, especially in this economic climate, but I hope it finds a loving new owner soon.

More pics here (pdf).

The inside of the third floor turret Stairwell ceiling, second floor

* I originally said that being on the register would limit the renovation options to ensure the building remains in keeping with its historical nature, but Brad pointed out in the comments that this is not in fact the case. Sadly, the National Register “no restrictions on the use, treatment, transfer, or disposition of private property.” 🙁

13 thoughts on “Nineteenth century armory for sale

    1. Oh no. What a shame. If I had anything like half a million dollars, I would have gladly bid.

      So what’s next? Are they going to lower the minimum bid or just put it on the open market?

      Great blog, btw.

    1. Holy crap $36.1 million! That’s some price tag, even for a LEED certified refurb. And that was only for the annex because those dicks from the brewing company demolished the main building for a parking lot in 1968.

  1. The beer wasn’t very good either! A lot of nice buildings were demolished in the 1960s here.

    Those plays better make a lot of money too! 😆

    1. The 60s were a bad, bad time for historical properties. Lots of crappy gray rectangles taking the place of Beaux Arts/Art Deco/Gilded Age marvels. London was hit worse by mid-century drudgery than by the Blitz.

  2. Hope a willing purchaser comes forward for this great building! Point of clarification – actually, listing on the National Register of Historic Places provides no restrictions on how a building can be renovated, unless Federal money in involved in the rehabilitation. The listing is strictly honorary – buildings on the National Register are, unfortunately, not protected against demolition, either. Only local designation, as in a City historic district or as a City landmark, provides any protection.

  3. I love this place. I used to drill out of here. it is also where I fell in love with my wife. one day I will own this place. I will make it happen.

  4. This would make a cool Home.I wonder if the equipment for making arms is still inside? :hattip: 😎

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