Members of the Ohio National Guard outside of the Athens Armory. (Photo courtesy of the Southeast Ohio History Center)

Athens Armory to Receive Official Historic Marker May 19

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On Saturday, May 19 starting at 11 a.m. a historic marker for the Athens armory, located at the intersection of West Carpenter Street and Court Street will be dedicated, after a year of work by the Athens City Historical Preservation Commission to do so. Athens City Mayor Steve Patterson, Southeast Ohio History Center Executive Director Tom O’Grady, State Representative Jay Edwards, and Ohio World War I Centennial Coordinator Amy Rohmiller will all give remarks.

“March of 2017 was the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the building (the armory), and it felt like 2018, since it is the centennial anniversary of World War I, was a good time to give the building some attention,” said Cyrus Moore, Ohio History Service Corps representative.

A photo of the initial dedication of the Athens Armory in 1917. (Photo courtesy of the Southeast Ohio History Center)

Moore said that the National Guard company that was located in Athens formed in 1910, although the group went without an armory for a number of years.

“They used to drill in the Campbell building, where Casa Nueva is now located,” he said. “Eventually the company grew in size, and at the time the state of Ohio was building a lot of armories for its National Guard companies, so in about 1914 the Athens National Guard Company and a few local businessmen successfully lobbied the state of Ohio for the Athens Armory, and the Athens Brick Company donated the land for the building. They began work on the building in 1915, and it was dedicated in 1917.”

The Athens Armory. (Photo courtesy of the Southeast Ohio History Center)

The armory was used for a variety of purposes throughout the last 100 years, initially as the home base for National Guard Company L and the Machine Gun Company of the Seventh Ohio Infantry, as well as a community space for everything from fundraisers to sorority dances.

Moore said that throughout the ‘90s, the National Guard began to consolidate its companies, which led to the armory being handed over to the City of Athens in 1997. The armory currently serves as storage space for the City of Athens, and a further best use for the building is still being discussed by the city.