The Armory

Home of the Pennsylvania National Guard

It has stood at 28 Barbour Street for nearly 94 years, but few people realize its historical significance. In fact, some Bradfordians do not even know what the building stands for!

The Pennsylvania National Guard was organized in Bradford on Sept. 4, 1880, and originally kept their guns, uniforms, and equipment in the rear of the Producer's Petroleum Exchange building (currently the site of the Seneca building). Later, the Guard shared a meeting hall on Corydon Street (now Sehman's Tires) with the GAR veterans of the Civil War (Grand Army of the Republic). It was not until 1905, when the State Armory Board was created by the General Assembly, that the idea of building a new building for troop use was initiated.

Property was purchased, and construction begun. On November 26, 1912, the official dedication of Bradford's Armory was held. It was a gala affair. The Governor of Pennsylvania, John K. Tener and his staff were invited and arrived by train in Olean, NY. They were met by Captain Lester Simons of Bradford (who had served in the Spanish American War) and traveled to Bradford by a special trolley car. The state armory board members accompanied the governor, and included Samuel P. Todd, executive controller; Adjutant General Thomas Stewart; Major General C.B. Dougherty; Brigadier General William G. Price; Colonel L.A. Watres; and Col. B.W. Demming, secretary of the armory board.

"In connection with the dedicatory ceremony, there was a reception and grand military ball. It is doubtful if ever in the history of the city a more elaborate function was held or one attended by so many distinguished guests. Then, too, Bradford's society had turned out, the ladies in rich and charming attire. The scene on the floor of the building at 8:45 PM when Governor Tener and party marched in with their ladies was one of brilliancy. The attractive military uniforms and the handsome costly gowns worn by the ladies were so as to win much admiration. While as the armory is not yet fully furnished, there was just enough of the rich furnishings to add to the beauty of the scene."

"The decorators spent much time in the arrangement of the decorations in the dance hall, the national colors were used to good effect. Upon the stage where Jamison's Orchestra was stationed, there were plants, ferns, and cut flowers, prettily arranged and the Stars and Stripes were draped around the side walls and in front of the balcony."

Following the grand procession into the armory, the dedication began. W. H. Dennis, representing the Tuna Manufacturing Company, presented the keys to the building to the supervising architect, A.P. Mount of Corry, PA. He stated, in part: "I now have the pleasure of turning over to you the keys to the completed building, the future home of Company C, the crack company of the 16th regiment." Then, in turn, the architect presented the keys to Governor Tener.

Dinner followed, with dancing until the early hours of the morning. Governor Tener and members of the armory board left at 11:30 PM on a special trolley to Olean, NY en-route to Harrisburg.

The Armory has served as home to the National Guard ever since. In 1992 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and deemed worthy of preservation by the US Dept. of the Interior. Its architectural design, "T-Shape", is unique. Only 37 armories in the United States are built in this style.

Bradford can be proud of our role in serving the Pennsylvania National Guard. In 2012 it turns 100 years old - what an honor to be a part of military history for such a long time!