Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Fresno South Chance Avenue Armory
Fresno South Chance Avenue Armory circa March 2015 (Google)
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)

Fresno, like other early Californian communities, has its origins in the Spanish mission period, when Franciscan priests passed through the region during their search for suitable mission sites. Those who came after the missionaries took native lands and converted them for their own use through the great Spanish and Mexican land grants. Prospectors worked and settled the region of the San Joaquin River as early as 1851, and by 1860, the accessible gold deposits in the region had been all but exhausted. During the early 1870s, cattle raising industry became the dominant industry in the area. During this transitional period, the political division called Fresno County was formed out of portions from Mariposa, Merced, and Tulare Counties. In 1869, irrigation came to Fresno County, signaling the future of what would become the region's agricultural success.

Plans for the National Guard Armory at Fresno were approved by the Public Works Board on July 28, 1949 (California Army National Guard 1950) but construction was not complete until June 17, 1954, at a cost of $579,831 (California Army National Guard 1962). Funding was provided by the State Legislature of 1949 under a $3 million grant for construction of armories to relieve congestion in present state-owned armories (California Army National Guard 1950). Additional funding was provided by the federal government in 1949 for the Mt. Camel Rifle Range in Fresno (California Army National Guard 1950). The armory sits on land that was leased to the National Guard until the year 2002 (California Army National Guard 1962).


The Fresno armory is located on the west side of South Chance Avenue in the northwest portion of the large county fairgrounds. The neighborhood setting surrounding the armory includes the county fairgrounds to the northeast and southeast and a mixture of community, residential, and commercial establishments to the west. Constructed in 1954, the Fresno armory (Figure 17) is consistent with CA ARNG standardized building plan type "K" designed by the Office of the California State Architect. The Fresno armory is a two-story assembly hall with a two-story full width office wing along the east and west axis of the assembly hall. The eastern elevation of the armory is essentially a stepped-down shed roof wing of the eastern elevation of the assembly hall. The second story of the office wing projects slightly beyond the first story across the entire entry facade. There are two two-story poured-concrete projecting bay additions located at the northwestern and southwestern corners of the assembly hall. The Fresno armory is a fairly tall and linear building set shallow on the somewhat barren property that gives the armory an overall impression of a heavy industrial building.

The primary form of the armory is the two-story, rectangular, assembly hall. The assembly hall is oriented north-south, with a low-pitched gable-end roof that is covered with asphaltic shingles. The ten-bay structure consists of a clear span, steel-frame structural system that is set on a concrete slab foundation. The walls of the assembly hall are poured concrete and rise approximately 25 feet to the roofing system. The interior of the assembly hall has a continuous balcony with steel pipe rails across all elevations but the northern. The balcony provides access to the offices and other rooms in the upper level wings and additions. The balcony is accessed by staircases with concrete steps and metal rails in all four corners of the assembly hall. The floor of the assembly hall is poured concrete that has been polished and scored into large rectangular blocks. The upper windows of the eastern and western elevations of the assembly hall are horizontal sets of three six-light, steel-frame, crank-operated awning windows. There are eight sets of windows appearing in all but the northern- and southern-most bays of the assembly hall. There are no windows on the northern or southern elevation of the assembly hall. Centered on the northern elevation is a large metal roll-up vehicle door that is flanked by a steel-frame pedestrian door that is glazed in the upper panel. There is a smaller vehicle door centered on the southern elevation. The remainder of the doors inside the assembly hall is a variety of approximately two dozen steel and wooden pedestrian doors that allow access to the upper and lower-story wings of the assembly hall.

The lower level of the facade of the office wing is covered with horizontally laid red and orange brick. The main entry is centrally located on this facade, and includes two pairs of steel-frame pedestrian doors that are glazed in the upper panels. The windows of the lower level of the facade are a series of four, steel-frame, 12-light arrangements, symmetrically spaced on both sides of the entry doors. The windows on the upper level of the facade are approximately 30 steel-frame tripartite casement windows with a fixed center sash and full-width transom lights. There are approximately six similar window arrangements appearing on both of the projecting bay additions. The windows of the east elevation wing are limited in number and are primarily placed towards the northern section of the armory. The upper elevation windows of the eastern wing are a series of approximately 15 tripartite windows, similar to those on the facade. There are three sets of similar tripartite windows at the southeast corner of the wing above a pair of steel pedestrian doors.

The sizeable, fenced armory vehicle and equipment lot is located predominately to the north of the assembly hall. Located at the northwest corner of the yard is the six bay vehicle shop. Constructed of poured concrete, the maintenance structure has a medium-pitched gable-end roof with five large metal roll-up doors. Located within the fenced and gated vehicle lot are a variety of Army vehicles and other miscellaneous equipment. The Fresno armory is in good condition overall.


The Fresno 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 Fresno armory follows the Type K plan designed by the Office of the California State Architect and was sited in a fairground. The armory was completed in 1954 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 would become eligible for listing in the NRHP when it turns 50 years old in 2004.
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Updated 8 February 2016