Historic California Posts, Camps,
Stations and Airfields
San Bernardino 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)
city of San Bernardino is located within the historic boundaries
of the San Bernardino Rancho. Issued to members of the Lugo family
in 1839, the immediate colonization of the rancho was not successful.
However, the family eventually succeeded in operating a livestock
range consisting of over 4,000 cattle. Although cattle raising
was the primary activity, the occupants of the rancho cultivated
various crops including corn, wheat, barley, and potatoes. A
limited number of fruit trees were planted, and grapes grew on
the land as well. To ward off raids by Indians and others, the
Lugo family began to encourage the settlement of their valley.
Additional settlers not only deterred raids on livestock and
property, but they also provided a source of hands to help track
The annexation of Alta California by the United States through
the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo began a new period in the area
surrounding San Bernardino. San Bernardino Valley lost much of
its Mexican character when Mormons and others began settling
the area in the late 1840s. Although farming took place under
Mexican occupation, the new settlers significantly increased
the total agricultural output through the expanded use of irrigation.
Grain crops such as wheat dominated, but other crops were also
The City of San Bernardino was laid out in 1853 by the surveyor
responsible for the City of Salt Lake in the state of Utah. Settlement
by the Mormons and non-Mormons in the city exploded over the
following two years, and San Bernardino County was carved out
of portions of the old San Diego and Los Angeles Counties. By
1854, the City of San Bernardino boasted a population of approximately
1,200 residents. Many of these new residents came to prospect
for gold in the San Bernardino Mountains and the Holcomb Valley.
Unfortunately, the supply of gold did not last long and had played
itself out by the early 1860s. However, the settlement pattern
did not change significantly, and San Bernardino continued to
The railroad arrived in the San Bernardino Valley in 1873. The
first route was a Southern Pacific line, which originated in
Los Angeles. Although San Bernardino seemed like the logical
choice for a station- given its location at the foot of the valley-
the railroad placed the station a few miles south at Slover Mountain
Colony. This "spite town," as they were commonly known
at the time, developed over San Bernardino's unwillingness to
negotiate with the railroad. Regardless, other railroads, including
the Santa Fe, crossed the city over the remaining years of the
nineteenth century, and San Bernardino flourished as a result.
The competition between the rail companies became a boost to
the local agricultural industry, most notably to citrus farmers.
San Bernardino remained an agricultural community during the
first few decades of the twentieth century. In addition to the
prospering citrus industry, wine grape cultivation emerged as
a successful industry in the area. It was not until 1945 that
citrus production showed any sign of declining. Following the
conclusion of World War II, urban and suburban development replaced
orange grove and vineyard acreage at an increasing rate. Prior
to World War II, no permanent military installations existed
in the San Bernardino area (Schuiling 1984).
Description: The San Bernardino armory is located on the
south side of East 3rd Street. The neighborhood setting surrounding
the armory is a combination of private residences and light industrial
and commercial establishments. Constructed in 1950, the San Bernardino
armory (Figure 13) is consistent with CA ARNG standardized building
plan type "E" designed by the Office of the California
State Architect. The San Bernardino armory is a two-story assembly
hall with a single-story subordinate wing protruding from the
entry facade that wraps around the full length of the eastern
elevation. The San Bernardino armory is set fairly shallow on
the flat, somewhat featureless property, creating an overall
impression of a sturdy industrial building.
The primary form of the armory is the central, two-story, rectangular
assembly hall. The assembly hall is oriented north-south with
a low-pitched gable-end roof covered with asphaltic shingles.
The seven-bay structure is supported by a clear span, steel-frame
structural system that is set on a poured-concrete foundation.
The walls of the assembly hall are constructed with poured concrete
and rise approximately 20 feet to the roofing system. The east
elevation windows of the assembly hall are horizontal sets of
three, six-light, steel-frame, crank-operated awning windows.
There are five sets of windows that appear in all but the northern
and southernmost bays on the east elevation. Centered high on
the southern gable end is a fixed, steel-frame, horizontal, six-light
window arrangement that is centered above the four steel-frame
entry doors. The windows of the north elevation are a set of
three steel-framed horizontal lights centered directly above
a metal roll-up vehicle door. Paired steel entry doors flank
the vehicle door in the northeast and northwest corners of the
assembly hall. A variety of wooden and steel vault and office
doors occur along the eastern and western walls of the assembly
hall, allowing access to the wings. The western elevation of
the assembly hall has an interior wing balcony with steel-pipe
rails that is accessed by a poured-concrete staircase built into
the southwest portion of the wing.
The upper offices and rooms of the western wing have a shed roof
with wooden beams supporting the flush-board roof substructure.
The windows of the western elevation appear near the roofline
and are a ribbon of 20 steel-frame, two-light awning windows.
The single-story subordinate wing extending out beyond the entry
doors and wrapping around to the eastern elevation is poured
concrete with a wood-framed, low-pitched shed roof and deep boxed
eaves. The windows of the southern wing are a ribbon of approximately
16 steel-frame, two-light windows. The eastern wing has a similar
fenestration treatment as the windows appearing along the northern
and southern sections of the armory. Several windows have window-mounted
Located to the rear of the armory is the vehicle yard that is
gated and fenced at the southwest and northeast corners of the
building. The paved vehicle lot contains a variety of Army vehicles
in addition to other miscellaneous equipment. The armory landscape
is a simple lawn located at the entrance, opposite the parking
lot, with some small bushes planted near the building across
the facade. The San Bernardino armory appears well maintained
and is in good overall condition.
Evaluation: The San Bernardino armory was constructed
in 1950 as part of the campaign to establish efficient facilities
that could meet the needs of the larger and more extensively
equipped CA ARNG 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 San Bernardino armory follows the type "E" plan
designed by the Office of the California State Architect and
was sited in an open area in a suburban neighborhood. The armory
was completed in 1950 and has been in use as a CA ARNG 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.
Images of Previous Armories in San
Armory Hall circa
1881. Home of Company K, 7th Infantry Regiment, National Guard
A early 20th century
postcard showing San Bernardino's City Park and Armory.
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