Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Ontario Armory
Ontario 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)

The City of Ontario was named by George and William Chaffey, who were natives of the Canadian province from which the city took its name. Their interest in the property, located within the Rancho Cucamonga, began in late 1882 with the purchase of a collection of 10-acre farm lots held by the Southern Pacific Railroad. Eventually, the brothers succeeded in amassing over 10,000 acres in the area. Success with irrigation in Australia lured the Chaffey brothers to sell their holdings in Ontario to the Ontario Land and Improvement Company (a group of Los Angeles real estate men and bankers) in 1886. The company was successful in selling property lots to residents, businesses, and farmers.

The town was officially incorporated in December 1891 in an attempt to rectify problems with the local water supply and other services. Agriculture ventures in the area flourished, particularly the cultivation of peaches, plums, apricots, cherries and numerous citrus fruits. Industries supporting agriculture also grew during the turn of the century. Included in these were numerous packing and canning companies such as Golden State Cannery and the Southern California Fruit Exchange (later changed to Sunkist). The influence of agriculture and the three major railroads passing through Ontario (Southern Pacific, Santa Fe, and Union Pacific) ensured the area's prominence as a major shipping point for many years.

The 1920s witnessed a significant increase in the population of Ontario, as businesses and residences were constructed along with a new municipal airport. By 1926, agriculture still reigned supreme as the Exchange Orange Products Company (now Sunkist Growers, Inc.), the largest continuing business of the time, moved its operations to Ontario.

The United States' entry into World War II brought a military presence to Ontario. Company G of the 185th Infantry Regiment of the California National Guard was inducted and sent out for service, and Company I Third Regiment, the Ontario unit of the State Guard, was mustered in with 121 volunteers. Local changes included the expansion of Ontario Municipal Airport for use by the Army Air Forces. The area's agricultural value increased during this period, and various companies in the area, including General Electric, were retooled to provide supplies for the war effort.

Following the conclusion of the war, development in the Ontario area increased substantially in both the public and private sectors. New residences and businesses appeared and public projects, including the construction of the CA ARNG Armory in John Galvin Park, were undertaken (Conley 1982).

In order to begin the project, the City of Ontario leased the parkland, totaling 2.5 acres, to the Guard for the armory. Officials approved the plans for the armory building on June 19, 1949, and construction commenced five months later (California Army National Guard 1950). Construction ended on the Ontario armory on September 1, 1950. The 1947 and 1948 State Legislatures provided funding from the "Postwar Preemployment Reserve" (California Army National Guard 1950). Plans for changes to the armory were completed on January 3, 1955, bringing the total cost of the building to $223,804 (California Army National Guard 1962).

The years following the war saw the increased replacement of agricultural acreage with residences and businesses as Ontario became less dependent on the citrus industry and more involved in the aerospace industry. The changes are reflected in the increase of business parks, new residences, and the improvements to the municipal airport to serve as a backup to the larger Los Angeles International Airport. By the early 1980s, none of the historic agricultural enterprises remained within Ontario's city limits (Conley 1982).


The Ontario armory is located on North Cucamonga Avenue. The neighborhood setting consists of open park space to the north and east, with modest residences to the west and south. Constructed in 1950, the Ontario armory (Figure 15) is consistent with CA ARNG standardized building plan type "I" designed by the Office of the California State. The Ontario armory is a tall two-story assembly hall with integrated two-story office wings on all but the east elevation that creates a truncated "U" shape. The Ontario armory has a modest setback from the street behind a row of mature trees giving the building a robust, well-grounded presence.

The primary form of the Ontario armory is the high interior rectangular assembly hall with seven structural bays and integrated office wings. The assembly hall is oriented north-south with a low-pitched gable-end roof supported by 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 30 feet to the roofing system. The main entry to the armory on the west elevation consists of three pairs of steel pedestrian doors that lead to an inclined foyer that slopes directly into the assembly hall. The remaining entrances are pairs of pedestrian doors that appear in the north and south corners of the east elevation. The upper level windows of the north and south gable ends are identical centered, one-over-one, fixed, steel-frame square windows. Upper level windows of the east and west elevations of the assembly hall consist of five arrangements of three, six-light, steel-frame, wheel-operated awning windows appearing in all but the southern- and northern-most bays. There are approximately 20 doors on the interior of the assembly hall that allow access to the integrated wings and the vehicle lot to the rear. There is a large metal roll-up door located centrally along the west wall of the assembly hall. The interior of the assembly hall has an "L" shaped concrete wing balcony with metal pipe rails that runs across the west and north interior walls. The upper level offices are accessed by three concrete half-turn staircases located in the northeast, northwest, and southwest corners of the interior of the armory.

The integrated office wings are constructed by poured concrete that is scored into large squares across the exterior of the first floor elevations. The interior rooms and hallways of the office wings are constructed with a wood-framed roof and steel reinforced-concrete and cinder block dividing walls. The windows of the entry wing occur across the second floor and are a ribbon of approximately 20 five-light steel-frame casement windows beneath a continuous concrete awning. Similar scaled-down window arrangements occur (minus the awning) across the upper levels of the north and south elevations, and a variety of steel-frame multi-light casement and awning windows are present across the lower level elevations. The interior of the integrated wings are an assortment of approximately 45 offices, classrooms, storage spaces, and a hallway originally designated as a firing range on the south elevation, second floor.
Located to the rear of the armory is a poured-concrete, rectangular, gable-end, five-bay vehicle maintenance structure. The vehicle yard is gated and fenced to enclose the eastern and southern portion of the lot and accommodates a variety of Army vehicles and other miscellaneous handling and support equipment. The grounds of the armory are simple lawns that are punctuated sporadically by mature trees. The condition and repair of the grounds and the armory is good overall.


The Ontario armory was funded in 1947-1948 as part of the initial 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 Ontario armory follows the Type I 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 1950 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.


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Updated 8 February 2016