Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Pomona Park Avenue Armory
 
 
 
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)
 
History

The area now known as Pomona was originally occupied by the Gabrielino Indians and later became part of the grazing lands of the Mission San Gabriel. In 1837, Don Ingacio Palomares and Don Ricardo Vejar were granted rights to the land by the Mexican governor of California. In 1863, Vejar's portion, Rancho San Abajo, was passed on to two merchants from Los Angeles and in then on to Louis Phillips in 1866. Phillips sold 5,600 acres to a group of speculators in 1875, who named the region "Pomona" after the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. Vineyards flourished in the 1880s, supplying the winemaking and raisin industries. Citrus orchards and olive groves would replace the vineyards in the 1890s.

The Pomona armory was constructed in 1933 and was one of the first 10 armory buildings built and owned by the state. Funding for the Pomona armory was provided by a grant of $25,000 from the state legislature, which was part of a $175,000 fund designated for the construction of four armories that year. The grant was part of a Depression-era federal program that made grants to states from PWA and WPA funds, which were matched with state funds. A half-acre parcel was acquired by deed from the Pomona City School District of Los Angeles County on April 25, 1932 and the armory building was completed on November 1, 1933. Changes were made to the building in 1952 and 1958, bringing the total cost of the building to $52,162 (California Army National Guard 1932, 1948,1950, 1962).
 

Description

The Pomona armory as it appears today is located near the intersection of Sixth Street and Park Avenue with a shallow setback from the street. The neighborhood setting that rings the armory includes a variety of civic buildings. The Pomona armory is a two-story assembly hall that is oriented east-west, with flanking subordinate wings along the eastern and western elevation. The decorative motifs and structural details such as exposed eaves and rafters, rounded roof tiles, arched entry, and columned overhanging porches are evocative of California Mission style design philosophies. The rather shallow setback from the streets and the variety of mature and partially dense vegetal cover, in addition to the California Mission style refinements give the overall impression of an expansive, large, yet elegant and detailed building (Figure 5).

The assembly hall and the associated wings are constructed by board-formed concrete set on a continuous (presumed) concrete slab. The assembly hall has a medium-pitched gable-end roof with overhanging eaves with exposed rafters. The entire roof is covered with rounded red roof tiles.

The main entrance to the assembly hall is centrally located on the northern elevation. The decorative slightly projecting entry has a typical Spanish treatment of stylized blocks that form an arch that is crowned with a decorative flourishing cartouche and unit blazon, highlighted by a pair of ornate fixed metal lanterns. The entire floor of the assembly hall is composed of narrow width, well-polished maple floorboards. There is a nearly full-height triangular stage built into the southwest corner of the assembly hall.

The single-story eastern and western wings run perpendicular to the long axis of the assembly hall and extend beyond the northern and southern elevations, creating an "I" shape. All three wings are constructed with board-formed concrete and have a medium-pitched shed roof that is tiled in the same manner as the principal roof. The eastern wing has an assembly-hall-width wood-framed porch with exposed eaves and rafters supported by approximately eight square concrete columns. Each of the wings house approximately four spaces that include storage, office, and orderly rooms. The orderly room located in the northwest corner of the armory has a fireplace that is composed of a common bond brick hearth and firebox located on the south wall. The board-formed concrete square chimney rises just above the assembly hall roofline and is capped with a turret-like feature.

Located to the rear of the assembly hall, beyond the southern elevation, is the contemporary vehicle and equipment yard. The fenced and gated lot encloses a variety of Army vehicles and other miscellaneous equipment. The grounds of the Pomona armory are a combination of simple lawns, paved parking lots, and a mix of mature trees and shrubs. The grounds have been well kept, and the building itself remains in good repair.
 

Evaluation

The Pomona 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 Spanish Revival 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. The Pomona unit was called into federal service for World War II on March 3, 1941. This association with the Guard's participation in World War II qualifies the armory as a significant property under Criterion A.

Built in 1933, the Pomona armory was the eighth armory built as a CA ARNG-owned armory. It is also one of the four armories built by the CA ARNG as part of the WPA program. The Guard employed the Spanish Revival design philosophies that were popular during that period to reflect the authority, importance, and pride of the CA ARNG presence within the community. The Pomona armory is also one of the few armories with wood flooring and a built-in stage, indicating its dual role during that period as a community center. The armory qualifies as a significant resource under Criterion C because it reflects the transition period during which the CA ARNG established permanent, state-owned facilities for their Guard units. The armory retains its integrity of location, setting, design, materials, feeling, and association. The building is still easily recognized as a pre-war armory with Spanish Revival and Art Deco design influences and thus retains its integrity overall.
 
 
Images (2014-2015)
 
Original front entrance to the Armory.
 
 
Park Avenue entrance
 
Rear of the Armory
 
A civic event being held in the Armory's assembly hall by Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis. 2015.
 
Images of the first Pomona Armory built in 1904.
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
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Updated 8 February 2016