Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Yuba City 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

Yuba City was founded in 1849 on land purchased from John Sutter by Samuel Brannan, Pierson Reading, and Henry Cheever, who came to establish a distribution center supplying those in search of gold. During the Gold Rush era, neighboring Marysville (on the east bank of the Feather River) overshadowed Yuba City because it was easier for miners arriving by riverboat from San Francisco and Sacramento to reach the gold fields to the east. Like many regional communities of the time, Yuba City did not prosper in an agricultural sense until after the Gold Rush subsided. Yuba City was established as the county seat by vote in 1856 and was incorporated January 23, 1908.

Marysville and Yuba City have a history of military spirit dating to the 1860s. During the Civil War, two large units were maintained in the city. During the mid-1920s, Yuba City had nothing in the way of military organizations, with the exception of those maintained by the ex-service men of World War I. There was a movement in 1923 by Captain Seth Millington, Jr., captain of the National Guard unit in Colusa and head of the American Legion in California, to establish a unit of the National Guard in Marysville. The creation of the command was indefinitely deferred by Governor Friend W. Richardson because of a lack of State funds. In the spring of 1924, however, a commission was given for the formation of a National Guard unit in Yuba City (History of Yuba County 1924).

The National Guard Armory building at Yuba City was completed in November 1931 at a cost to the state of $25,000. The Yuba City armory was one of the first six state-owned armory buildings to be constructed in the state (California Army National Guard 1932). The building is sited on a two-acre parcel that was purchased by the city of Yuba City from Richard and Annie Walton on March 5, 1931 for $2,000 and deeded to the state for the National Guard (California Army National Guard 1950). A motor-vehicle storage building was constructed in 1949 at a cost of $34,315, which was provided by federal funding (California Army National Guard 1950). The armory building itself underwent changes in 1956, 1959, and 1960, bringing the cumulative cost of the structure to $70,350 (California Army National Guard 1962).

Torrential rains struck northern California on December 15, 1955, and continued without stopping until December 23rd, sending at least eight rivers over their banks. In all, approximately 100,000 acres of Sutter County were flooded. On December 22, the CA ARNG units of Marysville and Yuba City were alerted and put on emergency standby. Some 750 Guardsmen commanded by Colonel Edwin B. Taylor, of the 184th Infantry regiment were called to action, devoting their efforts to levee and traffic control, evacuation and rescue work, and assisting local law enforcement authorities. Six medals of merit and 53 commendation ribbons were awarded to Guardsmen for their service during the Yuba City flood disaster (Sacramento Bee 1956). As a result of the flood, Yuba City's armory was inundated by 8 feet of water, and battalion headquarters had to be established in the county courthouse.
 

Description

The Yuba City armory is located at 310 B Street, which is approximately three blocks east of the historic commercial and civic center of Yuba City. The armory is deeply set on a corner lot, and has a fenced vehicle yard with two-vehicle maintenance and storage buildings and a varying number of military vehicles. The neighborhood setting includes a combination of light industrial complexes and commercial structures to the west and 1930s-era residential homes to the east. Unlike the standardized armories that were built after the 1940s, the Yuba City armory exhibits a unique plan and form (Figure 3). The armory is essentially a two-story assembly hall, flanked on the east and west by full-length, single-story wings, with two side-gabled single-story ells set perpendicular to the east and west walls of the assembly hall. The assembly hall, perpendicular ells, and lengthwise wings are board-formed concrete with touches of Art Deco and Spanish Revival stylistic details. There is a modern addition connected toward the rear of the west elevation of the armory.

The primary form of the armory is the central two-story gable-front assembly hall that is oriented north-south. The assembly hall has a low-pitched gabled roof that is covered with rounded red tiles (replaced in 1995 or 1996). The interior of the assembly hall is a steel open king truss clear span. The eaves running the length of the assembly hall are flush with the wall surface covered by hanging gutters that are painted to match the armory. Fenestration on the assembly hall generally consists of glazed multi-light windows in the upper portion of the walls, entrance doors on the lower level of the north and south elevations, and doors connecting to the wings on the lower level of the east and west walls. The entry on the north facade is recessed and is characterized by a nearly full-height stepped concrete surround, evocative of an Art Deco style.

The ells perpendicular to the east and west sides of the facade are also constructed with board-formed concrete on concrete foundations. They have medium-pitched side-gabled roofs that are covered with rounded red tiles. Each of the ells has three pairs of casement windows with stylized metopes impressed into the concrete wall beneath them. There are similar windows and decorative elements on both gable ends of these ells. A full-height concrete chimney is built between the northwest corner of the assembly hall and the southwest corner of the western ell.
The western and eastern wings are a series of five bays that run the length of the assembly hall. These wings begin just behind the south walls of the ells, and are not readily visible from the front of the armory. These single-story wings each have a low-pitched, wood-framed shed roof. The modern western wing of the armory is oriented east-west and joins the armory at the southern portion of the western wing. Constructed with poured-concrete on a concrete foundation, this is a single-story extension with a low-pitched, steel-framed, side-gabled roof with deep eaves.
The paint on the exterior of the armory (mainly along the southern elevation) is cracking and peeling, and there has been a minor attempt at patching a portion of the southern elevation with a fibrous material. Some of the water damage on both the interior and exterior may be the result of the December 1955 flood, which inundated the armory with 8 feet of water.
 

Evaluation

The Yuba City 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 the 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 CA ARNG has had to fulfill its mission as a reserve force for the regular Army. The Yuba City 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 1931, the Yuba City armory was the sixth armory built as a CA ARNG-owned armory. The Guard employed the Spanish Revival and Art Deco design philosophies that were popular during that period to reflect the authority, importance, and pride of the Guard presence within the community. This qualifies the armory as a significant resource under Criterion C because it reflects the transition period during which the Guard 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.
 
 
 
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Updated 8 February 2016