Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Long Beach Seventh Street Armory
The Long Beach Seventh Street Armory, circa 2014
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)

Within the modern limits of Long Beach, William Willmore formed Willmore City in 1882, and within three years of the town's founding, the Santa Fe Railroad and the Southern Pacific Railroad attracted many people to the region. Willmore City failed to incorporate, and residents later renamed the town Long Beach. The city was officially incorporated in 1888. Between 1902 and 1910, Long Beach was the fastest growing city in the United States, due in part to the establishment of the Port of Long Beach in 1911. During the early 1930s, a major earthquake struck Long Beach and the downtown area was rebuilt in Art Deco style; the United States Naval base was constructed in the harbor area in 1941. Historic districts in Long Beach are composed of structures reflecting Craftsman, Spanish Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, Victorian, Greek Revival, Chateauesque, and Renaissance Revival styles, as well as various other designs.

Long Beach has a history of National Guard representation. In the first days of the National Guard in Long Beach, the unit was known as Company H, Seventh Infantry, and CA ARNG. The unit was called to federal service twice. The first time was in June 1916, when the unit joined forces dispatched to the Mexican border for operations against the guerrillas of that nation (Long Beach Press Telegram 1938). The second time was in March 1917, when the unit was deployed for service in World War I.

On January 1, 1930, the 251st regiment was designated as antiaircraft and the Long Beach battery was named Battery F. In April 1936, a Medical Regiment Company, a Service Section and a Battalion Headquarters unit were authorized, bringing the total enlisted strength for Long Beach to approximately 180 men and officers. On January 24, 1938, two additional gun batteries, G and H, were mustered in, increasing the personnel to 250 enlisted men and 15 officers. In 1937, the National Guard armory located at 7th Street and California Avenue was the headquarters of the 2nd Battalion, 251st Coast Artillery, antiaircraft unit. In 1938, the Long Beach armory was being used to capacity. In 1957, nearly 200 National Guardsmen went on active duty to man the Nike missile sites. Four of southern California's missile sites were converted from Army to National Guard operation. They were the first Army missile sites in the nation to be converted from Army to National Guard operation (Long Beach Press Telegram 1957).

The National Guard armory building at 854 East 7th Street in Long Beach was built in 1930 as the fifth armory building to be constructed and owned by the state (California Army National Guard 1930). A half-acre lot (the site of the former garbage collection equipment storage lot), measuring 200 by 204 feet was acquired by deed from the City of Long Beach (California Army National Guard 1950) and construction of the armory building was completed in November 1930 (California Army National Guard 1962). The approximate cost of the facility was $75,000 (Long Beach Press Telegram 1930).

The armory at Long Beach was to be fully equipped, including a third floor drill hall with a kitchen and equipment for social functions (Long Beach Press Telegram 1929). Over the years, the armory underwent remodels or additions in 1931, 1950, and 1956, with the total cumulative cost of the building to the state reaching $89,853 in 1962 (California Army National Guard 1962).


The Long Beach armory located at 854 East 7th Street occupies the entire property bounded by 7th Street, California Avenue, Cobre Way, and Mars Court. A majority of the Long Beach armory is surrounded by fairly dense residential community primarily composed of two- and three-story apartment buildings. Unlike the standardized armories that were built after the 1940s, the Long Beach armory exhibits a unique plan and form (Figure 2). The complex form and plan of the Long Beach armory includes a two-story assembly hall, a large L-shaped adjoining wing set perpendicular to the long axis of the assembly hall, and a smaller rectangular plan wing joined to the rear of the assembly hall. The building has a shallow setback from the street giving the complex form of the armory a capacious, impressive presence. The armory was constructed with board- formed concrete set on a continuous concrete footing. The assembly hall is oriented north-south with a medium-pitched gable-end roof covered with flat roof tiles. Located at both the northeastern and northwestern corners of the assembly hall exterior are tall, flush, three-sided, tower-like protrusions, each capped with a triangular, turret-like roof. The armory displays decorative and architectural refinements such as symmetrical geometric patterns and a multi-chromatic paint scheme that are evocative of an Art Deco design philosophy, combined with the fenestration scheme of the assembly hall that is reminiscent of an ecclesiastical building.

The main entrance of the Long Beach armory is on the north facade of the east-west oriented extension, and is located at the top of a narrowing staircase. The slightly projecting, decorative entry is crowned with a stepped pyramid motif and has three sets of symmetrically spaced windows located on both sides of the entry course. Located at the northeast corner of the entry facade is a full-height, semi-circular, multi-light bay window that projects from the corner of the building. This unusual vertical window feature is composed of approximately 25 fixed, steel-frame lights. Another unique feature of the Long Beach armory is the nearly two-story poured-concrete square tower that is located at the congress of the assembly hall and the flanking entry wing. There are stylized Art Deco defensive loopholes centered near the top of the tower on all four faces. Located within the tower are concrete steps that lead to the basement complex of the armory.

The fenestration on the north and south elevations of the assembly hall includes an arrangement of regularly spaced, narrow, vertical, multi-light windows, steel double pedestrian doors, steel roll-up doors, and a large, circular window composed of approximately 45 square and triangular fixed steel-frame lights on the southern elevation. The windows of the eastern and western elevation of the assembly hall are sets of eight-light, steel-frame hopper windows. Each of the window arrangements of the assembly hall is centered over a protruding three-sided concrete bastion, each with two (sealed) firing ports built into the corners.

The interior of the entry wing and the smaller north-south running extension behind it house a variety of approximately 30 interior rooms arranged along double-loaded corridors. Along the eastern elevation of the assembly hall is a full-length cantilevered balcony with metal pipe railings. Stairs in the northeast and southeast corners of the hall provide access to the balcony. Just beneath the balcony overhang is a double steel door entry that allows passage between the assembly hall and large east wing entry hall.
Located to the rear, and attached to the southwest corner of the assembly hall, is the multi-bay storage and maintenance wing. Most likely a later addition, the maintenance and storage structure is a continuous, single-story, poured-concrete series of approximately five bays, each with a small metal roll-up door. The spacious armory lot is fenced and gated across the southern portion of the property and encloses a large variety of Army vehicles and other miscellaneous equipment. There is an additional basement entry at the southeast corner of the eastern wing.

Portions of the Long Beach armory interior have deteriorated, specifically in spaces other than the assembly hall. The interior of the assembly hall is in good shape with the exception of some exfoliating paint and cracking of the concrete floor. The interior office and hall spaces show light to moderate damage including cracking and blistering plaster, water damage, and general neglect. The exterior of the armory and the grounds are in good repair.


The Long Beach armory meets the definition for a significant resource type under both Criterion A, for its association with World War II, and Criterion C, for its association with the early-twentieth-century state-owned armories period of construction and Art Deco style of architecture. The armory also retains its integrity and therefore is eligible for listing in the NRHP.

The armory is one of the 10 armories that were owned by the state prior to and during World War II. The mobilization for World War II involved nearly all Guard units in California, presenting one of the few opportunities that the California Guard has had to fulfill its mission as a reserve force for the regular Army. In 1938, the armory served as headquarters of the 2nd Battalion, 251st Coast Artillery anti-aircraft unit, which was called into federal service for World War II on September 16, 1940. This association with the CA ARNG's participation in World War II qualifies the armory as a significant property under Criterion A.

Built in 1930, the Long Beach armory is the earliest state-owned armory that remains under Guard jurisdiction, and was the fifth armory built as a Guard-owned armory. The Guard employed the Art Deco design philosophies popular during that period to reflect the authority, importance, and pride of the Guard presence within the community. This qualifies the armory as a significant resource under Criterion C because it reflects the transition period during which the Guard established permanent, state-owned facilities for their Guard units. The armory retains its integrity of location, design, materials, feeling, and association. The integrity of setting has been somewhat compromised by the continued infill development over the years, which has made this area more densely developed than it was during its period of significance. However, the building is still easily recognized as a pre-war armory with Art Deco design influences and thus retains its integrity overall.

Historic Images
Lowering the flag to half staff after the 1933 Long Beach Earthquake
The Armory immediately after its completion in 1930
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Updated 8 February 2016