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)
History: The 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 stolen property.

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 cultivated.

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 grow.

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 air-conditioning units.

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 Bernardino
Armory Hall circa 1881. Home of Company K, 7th Infantry Regiment, National Guard of California
A early 20th century postcard showing San Bernardino's City Park and Armory.



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