Historic California Posts, Camps,
Stations and Airfields
Entrance to the Burbank
Armory circa 1949 (LAPL)
Extract, Final Inventory and Evaluation
of National Register of Historic Places Eligibility of California
Army National Guard Armories, Sacramento District US Army Corps
of Engineers (2002)
The city of Burbank was established
on May 1, 1887, and took it name from a sheep rancher, Dr. David
Burbank. Burbank acquired more than 8,600 acres from Los Angeles
attorney Jonathan Scott and another 4,600 acres from Alexander
Bell and David Alexander in 1867. Although a doctor by training,
Burbank ran a successful sheep ranch on his property for several
years. This operation lasted until a drought in 1886 forced him
to sell his holdings to the Providencia Land, Water and Development
Company one year later (Tuller 1954).
Providencia Land, Water and Development began selling lots for
the future townsite of Burbank in 1887, and the town was officially
incorporated in 1911. At that time, Burbank was composed of approximately
30 residences, a hotel, a furniture factory and other businesses,
which were all surrounded by farms, vineyards, and orchards.
During this period of industrial and real estate growth, the
population climbed from 2,913 in 1920 to 16,622 in 1930.
Although the national depression curtailed Burbank's economic
growth, the onset of World War II and the construction of new
wartime industries, including Lockheed Aircraft, helped end the
problem. It was also during the war that Burbank launched its
film industry. Walt Disney Studios and Warner Brothers Studios
both provided full length and short feature films in support
of the war effort (Mayers 1975).
Following the war, Lockheed and other aerospace companies began
producing commercial aircraft, and by 1950, one-quarter of all
transport planes were produced in Burbank. Lockheed was again
tapped to provide crucial elements of the space program of the
1960s. The film industry expanded greatly during this period
with the arrival of the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) television
studio in 1951 and the enlargement of existing studios owned
by Warner Brothers and others (Mayers 1975).
In addition to the private contractors working in the Burbank
area, the military was active in the city beginning as early
as 1920. Burbank's earliest Guard unit was mustered on July 7th,
1920. In June 1941, volunteers from Burbank's Home Guard began
signing up for Company C, 1st Battalion, 3rd Regiment of the
California State Guard. Wartime and postwar construction boomed
in Burbank, and in 1947, a Unites States Naval Reserve Armory
was located on a 10-acre site in northwest Burbank (Mayers 1975).
A second military structure, the National Guard Armory at Burbank,
was completed October 5, 1951 (California Army National Guard
1962) and dedicated on February 10, 1952, by Burbank's 111th
Armored Cavalry Regiment. The initial occupants of the armory
included the Third Battalion, the Seventh Battalion Second Group,
and the First Division, California National Guard Reserve. The
$291,055 construction cost was part of a $3 million grant issued
by the 1949 State Legislature (California Army National Guard
1962). The legislature designated the grant monies for the construction
of armories at specific sites to relieve congestion in state-owned
armories (California Army National Guard 1950). Plans were approved
by the Public Works Board December 16, 1949 (California Army
National Guard 1950), and 3.81 acres were acquired by deed from
the City of Burbank (California Army National Guard 1952). In
addition to state funds, federal grants provided $49,330 for
a motor-vehicle storage building that was under construction
at the site during fiscal year 1950 (California Army National
Guard 1950). In March 1954, the City of Burbank, in conjunction
with the California National Guard, opened the largest indoor
archery range in the west at the Burbank armory.
During the Vietnam era, the Guard building again served the needs
of the military. In 1966, the Burbank unit of the National Guard
assembled at full strength in preparation for possible mobilization
that summer. The local units housed within the building were
the 1st Squadron 18th Armored Cavalry and 40th Armored Division.
These units had participated in the suppression of 1965 Watts
riots (Mayers 1975).
The Burbank armory is located toward the intersection of Screenland
Drive and Valhalla Drive. Located on the south side of Valhalla
Drive, the neighborhood setting around the armory includes a
large parking lot and warehouses across the street and the Burbank
Airport to the north. Constructed in 1951, the Burbank armory
(Figure 14) appears consistent with CA ARNG standardized building
plan type "H" designed by the Office of the California
State Architect. The Burbank armory is a two-story assembly hall
with two-story subordinate wings that form a continuous wraparound
on all elevations but the north. The Burbank armory is set fairly
shallow on the southwest portion of the lot, giving the armory
a somewhat robust and dominating presence.
The primary form of the armory is the central, two-story, rectangular
assembly hall. The assembly hall is oriented east-west with a
low-pitched gable-end roof covered with asphaltic shingles. The
eight-bay structure consists of a clear span, steel-frame structural
system that is set on a concrete slab foundation. The walls are
formed by poured concrete and rise approximately 25 feet to the
roofing substructure. The walls of the assembly hall are flush
with the roofline, which is behind a course of full-length metal
rain gutters. The upper elevation windows on the north and south
walls of the assembly hall are a horizontal series of three six-light,
steel-frame, crank-operated awning windows, located in all but
the eastern and westernmost bays of the assembly hall. The windows
of the east and west gable ends are both a comparatively small,
fixed, square window with operable louvers located on the inside.
The east wall of the assembly hall has a large, recessed, offset
metal roll-up vehicle door. A variety of steel and wooden doors
occur along all the first floor interior walls, and along the
south, east, and west walls of the second floor. The southern
wall has an interior wing balcony with steel pipe rails that
is accessed by a concrete staircase located in the southwest
corner of the assembly hall.
The subordinate wings are constructed with poured concrete and
rise to nearly the full height of the assembly hall. The upper
elevation windows of the entry facade are a ribbon of approximately
15 steel-frame multi-light windows consisting of a casement window
bounded by fixed lights and topped with a tripartite transom
light. Nearly all the windows have window-mounted air-conditioning
units. Centered beneath these windows is the main entry to the
armory, which is a series of six pedestrian doors. The entry
is flanked on the exterior by horizontally laid red and orange
brick that is bounded on both sides by concrete wall that has
been scored into large rectangular blocks. The lower level south
elevation windows are tucked beneath a slightly projecting overhang
and consist of a ribbon of six, three-light, steel-frame casement
windows. The west wing and north elevation have a mixed variety
of upper and lower level windows similar in design to the entry
Centrally located on the southeast portion of the lot is the
OMS building that is fenced and gated separately from the armory.
The OMS building is a tall, single-story, rectangular structure
oriented north-south, with a medium-pitched gable-end roof covered
by asphaltic shingles. This seven bay structure has four centrally
located, large metal roll-up doors, in addition to a variety
of dual pane sash windows and pedestrian doors that are glazed
in the upper section. The armory lot encloses a variety of Army
vehicles and other miscellaneous storage and handling equipment.
The Burbank armory and the grounds are in good overall condition.
The Burbank armory was funded in 1949 as part of the $3 million
campaign to establish efficient facilities that could meet the
needs of the larger and more extensively equipped Guard units
of the post-World War II period. The modern, efficient standardized
plans and new guidelines for siting armories reflected a significant
shift in how the Guard used its armories and how the armories
interacted with the surrounding community. The Burbank armory
follows the Type H plan designed by the Office of the California
State Architect, and was sited in a park within a suburban neighborhood.
The armory was completed in 1951 and has been in use as a Guard
armory since that time. The building retains its integrity of
location, setting, design, materials, feeling and association.
Because the building is a significant resource type and it retains
its integrity, it is eligible for listing in the NRHP.