Hawley Armory on the campus of the University of Connecticut in Storrs was built in 1914-1915 for the school’s military department, but its gymnasium and drill hall also served as the location for numerous athletic and social activities over the years. The Armory was named for Willis N. Hawley, a student at what was then called the Storrs Agricultural College. A first lieutenant of the cadet company on campus, he joined the army after graduating in 1898, but before he could fight in the Spanish-American War, he died of typhoid fever at the Red Cross Hospital in Philadelphia. As noted by President George W. Flint in the Annual Report of the Trustees of the Storrs Agricultural College (1899):
When the war with Spain was imminent, and the President of the United States issued his call for volunteers, five students of Storrs Agricultural College responded to the call, and were found to be well qualified for official positions. Of these, First Sergeant Willis N. Hawley was taken sick at Camp Meade, and died in the hospital at Philadelphia, November 19, 1898. When the State shall erect its library building at Storrs Agricultural College, we trust that some memorial will find a place in that structure to show the State’s appreciation of those who are willing to die for her honor, and for the freedom of an oppressed people.
Mention of the Armory and athletics at the College in general is made by Charles A. Wheeler in the Biennial Report (1917):
As chairman of the Athletic Advisory Board from its inception and now of the Athletic Council, which continues the work of the former organization, I think it fitting to mention our greatly increased facilities for athletic work, and the marked improvement in our standing among colleges. The Hawley Armory gives facilities for every student to exercise, and provision for athletic teams in the way of shower baths and dressing room with lockers. Our quartermile track has been re-surfaced with rock screenings and the opportunities for track-work increased. Our main interest in athletics has centered about football, basketball, and baseball. The support of athletics rests upon the student body, the faculty, and such alumni and others as attend the games. Football costs about $800. a year, basketball $300. and baseball $600. The past two years have been a transition period for us in athletics from the high and preparatory school group to the college group. We are now playing college and university teams, and, though victories for us are scarce, we have as a rule made a creditable showing in each game and have the respect of our adversaries. It seems to me that the past two years have shown 100% improvement in athletics. Looking back over a period of thirty years as student and teacher in college, I believe the interest of students in athletics has been a helpful influence in college life, and that our armory and gymnasium, is our most useful college building.
In 1911 the First Company Governor’s Horse Guards became Troop B Cavalry, Connecticut National Guard. Troop B soon began construction of a privately funded armory (with stables and drill shed) at 836 Farmington Avenue in West Hartford. The plans were provided by architects and troop members A. Raymond Ellis and Francis E. Waterman, who made the building very functional without extra features in order to keep costs down. Built in 1912-1913, the armory was soon officially acquired by the state. The unit served along the Mexican border in 1916 and in World War I as a Machine Gun Battalion. By the late 1930s mechanization was bringing an end to horse cavalry in the US Army. In 1940 the unit became part of the 208th Coastal Artillery Regiment and the Armory was converted to store large vehicles. After the War, the First Company Governor’s Horse Guards was reorganized as a state militia unit and today has a facility in Avon. The Army continued to house various units in the West Hartford Armory until the early 1980s, when the building was decommissioned and sold by the state. It was then extensively altered for use as professional office suites.
The Militia Act of 1903, also known as the Dick Act, was federal legislation that mandated greater oversight of National Guard units by the regular army. As part of the military reforms arising from the act, the federal government had provided the Connecticut National Guard with an artillery battery, subject to inspection by regular army officers to ensure both performance and proper care for government property. In 1909 the War Department was dissatisfied with a recent inspection and demanded that the state erect an armory to house the equipment. Following negotiations, in 1911 the state General Assembly approved a new armory to be built in Branford to house Battery A of the field artillery. Completed in 1913, the armory was designed by the architectural firm of Palmer and Townsend, which had just completed the Meriden Armory. Located at 87 Montowese Street, the armory has been updated at different times and housed various National Guard units over the years (the original field artillery moved out in the 1920s). Branford Armory & OMS is now also home to the 2nd Company Governor’s Foot Guard, which moved out of its New Haven armory in 2009. Controversy arose in 2011 when the Branford Armory Tank (actually a Marine armored personnel carrier), placed on the front lawn in the 1970s as a memorial by Korean War veterans, was removed by the Guard without warning as part of an effort to restore historical military equipment for display at Camp Niantic. Branford veterans and citizens successfully lobbied to have the tank returned. For more information about the Branford Armory, see Built to Serve: Connecticut’s National Guard Armories 1865-1940 (2003), by Geoffrey L. Rossano & Mary M. Donohue, pages 58-61.
The former National Guard Armory at 511 Main Street in West Haven was built in 1932-1933 and remained an active military facility through the late 1970s. Designed by the architectural firm of Fletcher & Thompson, it is an Art Deco structure–the first armory building in Connecticut to break with the earlier castellated Military Gothic style. The armory was later converted into apartment units.
A chapter (called a “tribe”) of the Improved Order of Red Men was established in Bristol in 1890. The organization constructed a three-story brick meeting hall at 43 Prospect Street in Bristol in 1911. Designed by Walter Crabtree and built by B.H. Hubbard Co. of New Britain, the Redmen’s Hall had a state armory on the first floor and a meeting hall on an upper floor. Many town events were held in the hall in the early years of the twentieth century. In 1940 the building was renovated to become a movie theater called the Carberry Theater. The building is now owned by the Christian Fellowship Center.
At the corner of Arch Street and Grand Street in New Britain stands the old New Britain Armory, built in 1886 and designed by Robert Wakeman Hill of Waterbury. He used the same design for the armory in Norwalk. By 1986, when a notice in the New London Day announced that this former state armory was for sale by public bid, the building had left in a state of disrepair for a number of years. Most noticeably, it had lost its original domed top above the central tower. In 1992, the Greater Hartford Architecture Conservancy took control of the building and renovated it to become Armory Court (10 Grand Street), which contains low income housing.
At Fort Griswold Battlefield State Park in Groton is a powder magazine. It was built in 1843 and served the fort‘s nineteenth-century river battery. The battery was paired with a larger one across the Thames River at Fort Trumbull.