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Montana State Arsenal, Armory and Drill Hall - Helena, MT
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member BK-Hunters
N 46° 35.897 W 112° 01.919
12T E 420956 N 5161040
Quick Description: Built in 1940-1942 with WPA funded labour, the Montana State Armory continued in its original role until 2001, at which time the Montana National Guard headquarters relocated from this site.
Location: Montana, United States
Date Posted: 3/24/2019 4:56:41 PM
Waymark Code: WM1099E
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member ZenPanda
Views: 0

Long Description:
Art Moderne in style, the two storey armory building is 148 feet wide ane 153 feet deep, built to create storage for 70 army trucks, army supplies and a rifle range. on the main floor were a 73 foot X 102 foot drill hall 73 X 102, locker and storage rooms, offices, club rooms and custodian's quarters. The second floor was built to house offices for the Adjutant General, United States Purchasing and Disbursing Officer, Army Officers and instructors, and a lecture room.

The 1935 earthquake had destroyed the Helena Armory and, by 1939, with the prospect of war looming on the horizon, it became clear that a new Helena Armory was a pressing need. At the time the WPA was already building armories and other government buildings across Montana as part of the Depression era New Deal project, so it fell to the WPA, as well as Armory Board bond sales, to provide funding for the project.

Designed by the only Helena architect of the time, Norman DeKay, the Armory cost $273,704 and was completed in 1942, with the Montana State National Guard moving in that fall. Thereafter, until 2001 the building was used extensively for unit formations, drills and ceremonies, equipment training, arms maintenance, physical fitness training and community events in the gymnasium and drill hall, small arms training and firing in the basement firing range, supply functions in the basement vaulted arms room, and administration functions and classroom training throughout the office areas.


In 1885, the Montana Territorial Legislature authorized the organization of a National Guard. Within three years its nine companies were headquartered in the territorial capital at Helena. Since that time Montana Guard personnel have been called up for State Active Duty to assist with riots, strikes, natural disasters, law enforcement, search and rescue, and other emergencies. Montana citizen soldiers mustered into federal service for military actions including the Spanish American War in 1898, the Philippine Insurrection in 1899, World War I France, throughout World War II's Pacific Theatre, the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, the Persian Gulf War, Bosnia and Kuwait, and for Homeland Security Operations following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. After earthquakes destroyed the old 1890s armory, Helena architect Norman DeKay designed this handsome facility of poured concrete and steel. Completed in 1942 with Works Progress Administration (WPA) labor, its clean lines and squared pilasters in a stepped motif are classic Art Moderne style elements. The interior included garage space for 70 trucks, U.S. Army supplies storage areas, a rifle range, and a 73-by-102-foot drill hall. The unique drill hall floor was constructed of hand-laid two-by-fours set on end 18 inches deep in a contrasting design so that vehicles could be driven on its surface. Since World War II, the drill hall has served as a community social center, dance hall, and sports facility. In December 2001, the Montana National Guard headquarters relocated from this site, but the landmark building continues to be a bold reminder of the Montana National Guard's contributions both at home and abroad.
From the NRHP plaque at the building

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While reading the plaque you are standing in front of the building, with a fine view of it.

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