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)
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.
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
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.
San Diego Balboa
Park Armory, home of the 251st Coast Artillery Regiment, 1937-1940