The ArmoryFebruary 21, 2010
The Armory is a special place for me because it was my first major urban discovery. Although I had seen the building many times driving past it on highway 40 over the years, walking around the massive structure was an entirely new experience.
The building is both in use and horribly blighted. Most of the exterior windows are broken and rooms appear to simply be filled with trash, but a peek inside the basement parking area yields luxury cars and lights. In this UrbanSTL thread, ecoabscence says it was being used as parking for Famous Barr employees (in January 2005), but I have been back this year and despite the fact that the Macy’s warehouse next door is closed, the garage continues to have just enough cars in it to let me know that something is going on there. Also, St. Louis Patina has a great piece on the Armory, but many questions remain. Basically, I’m still very curious about the Armory.
So much must have happened here, I’m not sure why google hasn’t told me more. I know that a proposed sale of the Armory in 1981 almost led to a fistfight outside of the state legislature. I know that Tennis greats honed their game here and that the Fox Associates got a contract to try to help the Armory expand as a concert venue but I don’t know much else. Luckily this research led to another interesting finding. This particular National Guard Armory is one of many armories we used to have around the city. It is also not unique in its housing of athletics. Another Armory (the Battery A), once located close by at 1221 South Grand, was for a short period of time home to the St. Louis Gunners, an NFL team we had in the 1930s. The same Armory also hosted boxing matches during the same time period.
I still have lots of questions about the Armory (and the others around the city), and would love to see the inside of it, but I am actually satisfied with the fact that I was able to discover it at all. Maybe there’s still more going on there than it looks like.