Cottage Grove Armory
628 E. Washington Avenue | Cottage Grove, Oregon 97424 | Phone: (541)942-5501 | Fax: (541)942-1267
The Cottage Grove Armory was constructed in 1931 to provide a permanent home for the National Guard. The National Guard had been active in Cottage Grove since 1907 using other facilities for their drills and meetings. The citizens of Cottage Grove saw the construction of the Armory as an opportunity to not only provide a facility to serve the needs of the National Guard but also to provide a much needed gathering place for community events. The citizens made a profound statement in support of the facility when voters overwhelmingly approved levying a local tax measure of $15,000 to contribute to the construction of the Armory. The community contribution represented a quarter of the $61,000 construction cost; no small effort during the Great Depression for small struggling community of only about 2,000 citizens. The citizens of Cottage Grove understood the important role the Armory would play in the community.
For about 79 years the building was home to the National Guard in Cottage Grove. During that time it also was a hub of activity for the community. Kindergarten classes, boy and girl scouts, dances, wrestling and boxing exhibitions, concerts, roller skating, Christmas parties, revivals community meetings and youth sport programs were held in the building. The Armory building touched every member of the community.
In 1994 the Cottage Grove Downtown Commercial Historic District was designated as a National Historic District (#93001568). The Cottage Grove Armory building and its unique Art Deco style was identified as a primary contributor to the district.
The National Guard began to outgrow the aging facility. Plans were developed to consolidate the Guard units in a regional facility in Springfield, twenty miles away. In the final years before the National Guard left the building, community uses ceased because of poor conditions and overwhelming use of the facility by the Guard. Every space in the building was used for storage of equipment and supplies for the Guard. The building became too small for both the Guard’s use and community events. Additionally, repairs needed to be made but the National Guard was not investing in the structure because a new regional facility was being developed.
In February 2009 the National Guard left Cottage Grove after over 100 years of presence in the community. It was a bitter sweet closing to the 100 year old relationship. Community members filled the street outside the Armory on a chilly evening for a special closing ceremony and to bid farewell. But many realized that the Armory could continue to play a vital role in the community.
Prior to the closing of the Armory the City of Cottage Grove expressed an interest in acquiring the building and maintaining it for community uses. The Cottage Grove City Council recognized an urgent need to obtain the building to protect it from weather damage, even though the community did not have the funds to renovate the structure. The City negotiated the purchase of the building from the Military Department and took possession in September, 2010. Since purchasing the building the City has repaired roof leaks, plumbing leaks and other minor repairs to prevent damage to the structure or further deterioration.
The Armory was selected as one of the 100 places out of 265 entries to participate in the National Trust for Historic Preservation 2011 This Place Matters Community Challenge and finished 19th out of 100 sites in the internet voting competition.
National Register of Historic Places
The City of Cottage Grove nominated the Cottage Grove Armory to the National Register of Historic Places. The City received the designation on March 7, 2012.
With the current listing on the National Historic Register the City is beginning to apply for grants to renovate the building. The listing on the National Register will strengthen grant applications.
The City has received an Oregon State Parks Grant to begin restoration of the windows. Thirty-five of the worst windows are being rebuild maintaining the historic beauty of the original windows.
Although the building can not be used for events yet, Tours are available of the building. The tours take approximately 45 minutes. The building is not heated so attendees should dress for the season. Also there are three flights of stairs and accessibility would be a challenge. (The proposals for renovation are planned to address both of these issues.) Please contact the City Managers Office (541)942-5501 if you are interested in a tour.
Original construction completed: April, 1931National Register of Historic Places Application
Original construction cost: $61,000
Cottage Grove citizen bond levy contributed $15,000 to construction
Square Footage: 33,080 sq ft
13,880 sq ft main floor and basement117 windows in the building
5,320 sq ft upper floor
First cast in place concrete building in Cottage Grove
Building was designed by Hunzicker, Smith & Phillips of Eugene
2010 Appraised Value - $760,000 / Real Market Value $1,300,000
2010 City of Cottage Grove purchase price $395,000
Estimated renovation costs - $782,388
(Existing Conditions Report by Atelier Architecture P.C. Feb. 2010)
Draft renovation drawings