Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
San Diego 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 surrounding the San Diego National Guard Armory was once part of the lands supporting the Spanish, and later, the Mexican Mission and Presidio. Following the independence of Mexico from Spain in 1821, the boundaries of San Diego spilled outside of the Presidio's walls and began the city's evolution of growth. In 1834, the San Diego Mission (along with the other California missions) was secularized, thus ushering in a relatively quiet ranching period that lasted until the mid-1840s. The Unites States' annexation and settlement of California significantly influenced the future of San Diego and its surrounding areas.

Military activity continued in the area following the United States victory over Mexico, despite civilians' general disinterest in the province. On the hill south of the armory, Commodore Robert Stockton built an earthen barrier (referred to as Fort Stockton), although it was never used in battle (Starr 1986).

San Diego remained rural until the late 1860s, when speculator Alonzo Horton purchased a large portion of land and began subdividing. Fortunately, his venture proved successful, as it took place during the increase of agricultural ventures within the area. New local crops included alfalfa, vineyards, and various fruit orchards (Starr 1986). Transportation improved and population numbers increased as the result of the introduction of local railroad service. Although the promise of Colonel Thomas Scott's failed Texas and Pacific Railroad to San Diego in 1873 succeeded in sparking a settlement boom, rails did not actually appear within San Diego until 1885. At that time, the construction of the California Southern Railroad's connection to the Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe caused an even larger settlement boom which, established San Diego as a major California community. However, financial hardships and the lack of a major railroad line limited settlement in the area until after the turn of the century (Engstrand 1980).
Beginning with the Spanish Presidio era, the military maintained a presence in the San Diego area. During World War I, the Army and the Navy realized the importance of a good climate for successful ocean, air, and ground facilities. Military construction in greater San Diego continued through the 1950s. Although neither the Korean War nor the Cold War resulted in the level of military construction witnessed during World War I, San Diego's production of military armaments and supplies (including the aerospace industry) continued to bolster the local economy (Starr 1986).

It should be noted that the area directly surrounding the current San Diego armory remained relatively undeveloped until the early 1950s. Following the conclusion of World War II and the introduction of the modern freeway system, the city of San Diego moved to complete one its largest developments, Mission Bay Park. Located north of the downtown San Diego area, this project was intended to alter the natural state of Mission Bay to create a new aquatic park. During this period, surrounding suburban communities, including Serra Mesa, Mission Village, Allied Gardens, and Clairemont, sprang up to house San Diego's burgeoning postwar population. (Starr 1986)

Although many military facilities resulted from the World War II effort, the need for a permanent National Guard armory building was noted as early as 1926 when the Adjutant General listed San Diego among the cities "badly in need of such armories" (California Army National Guard 1926). The National Guard Armory at San Diego was constructed February 16, 1955 (California Army National Guard 1962) and dedicated on November 6th, 1955. Upon initial completion, the building was noted by the local paper to have cost $1 million, although records of the Adjutant General indicate an expense to the National Guard of $168,715 (California Army National Guard 1962). The new building was touted locally as a group effort that involved the community. A later addition to the armory (completed in 1957) cost $224,509 and brought the total cost of the armory to $393,224.
An M47 "Patton Tank on the armory's front lawn

Description: The San Diego armory is located on Tecolote Road. The surrounding neighborhood includes community service buildings such as the Sharp Memorial Hospital and adjoining Kearny Mesa High School. Constructed in 1955, the San Diego armory (Figure 16) is consistent with CA ARNG standardized building plan type "J" designed by the Office of the California State Architect. The San Diego armory is a long, rectangular two-story office wing with an assembly hall connected at the rear. The San Diego armory is set fairly deep on the somewhat flat, featureless property giving the armory a massive, expansive overall presence.

The primary form of the armory is the two-story, rectangular office building, with an assembly hall attached lengthwise in the rear, forming a truncated "T" shape. The rectangular armory is oriented east-west. The office building has a flat roof, and the assembly hall has a low-pitched gable-end roof that is flush with the rise of the walls. The seven-bay assembly hall consists of a clear span, steel-frame structural system that is set on a concrete slab foundation. The walls of the office wing and assembly hall are constructed by poured concrete and rise approximately 25 feet to the roofing substructure in the assembly hall. The entire armory is dressed with red brick, with a vertical groove finish and laid in ordered vertical and horizontal bands with wide mortar joints. The walls of the office wing and the assembly hall are flush with the roofline that is bounded by full-length metal rain gutters.
The upper level windows of the office wing are a ribbon of approximately 30, steel-frame, six-light arrangements with central awning sections. Centered beneath these windows is the main entry to the armory, consisting of three sets of paired doors spaced between terra cotta pilasters. The lower level windows on the entry elevation are a ribbon of approximately 10, four-light, steel-frame, grated hopper windows. A similar fenestration scheme appears on the upper and lower elevations of the east, west, and southern elevations. The windows of the assembly hall appear on the upper level of the southern elevation and are a series of five three-window arrangements. Each of the windows is a steel-framed, six-light composition with a central awning section. Located in the southeast corner of the assembly hall is a large metal roll-up door. A variety of wooden and steel pedestrian doors appear on all the interior walls of the assembly hall, allowing access to the office wing and exterior vehicle yard. The interior of the assembly hall has a concrete wing balcony with metal pipe rails across the northern elevation, accessed by half-turn stairs in the office wing.

Much of the interior of the office wing is partitioned with concrete block set on a poured-concrete foundation. The interior lower level hallways are double loaded with wood-framed doorways and single hollow wood doors with 1950s-era fixtures. Some of the offices have shed-roof ceilings with exposed framing, and others have drop-ceiling panels.
Located to the rear of the armory is the spacious vehicle lot that is gated and fenced to enclose a variety of Army vehicles and other miscellaneous equipment. The overall condition of the San Diego armory and grounds is good.

Evaluation: The San Diego armory does not meet the definition of a significant resource type. The armory was funded after 1950, and construction was completed in 1955. Although the armory followed one of the standardized plans and the siting guidelines were established in 1947, it was not funded or constructed during the 1948-1954 period of significance. Therefore, the San Diego armory is not eligible for listing in the NRHP.
Pervious Armories
San Diego Balboa Park Armory, home of the 251st Coast Artillery Regiment, 1937-1940
San Diego Historical Center:
Coast Artillery Armory: http://www.sandiegohistory.org/prints/military/national-guard-1927-8321
Armory Hall: http://www.sandiegohistory.org/photostore/product/armory-hall-san-diego-rifles-1889/
Naval Militia Armory: http://www.sandiegohistory.org/journal/63april/naval.htm


Search our Site!
Search the Web Search California Military History Online
Questions and comments concerning this site should be directed to the Webmaster
Updated 8 February 2016