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Cleveland Armory

Cleveland Armory

Grays Armory was founded in 1837 and is one of the historical buildings in Cleveland. Grays Armory is one of the oldest remaining buildings in Cleveland. The Grays Armory building anticipates the Civil War. The Grays Armory is well known for hosting the city's cultural and social events apart from protecting the city during civil disturbances or riots. Cleveland's Grays Armory has been witness a great tradition of public service and patriotism. They were sent to fight every major conflict of America from the civil war to World War I by Cleveland. Fire destroyed the City Armory situated on the Long Street on Dec. 8, 1892. The Long Street was left empty after the fire for the Cleveland Union Terminals project. After the destruction of City Armor, two of the military units who shared the City Armory set out to build their own armories. Designed by Fennimore C. Bate, the Cleveland Grays laid the cornerstone of their own armory on Decoration Day, 1893 at 1234 Bolivar Road. The building served as honor guards at local, state and national levels and provided men for military services.

In spite of serving the Grays for military functions, the Grays Armory served the community as a social center. Grays Armory became well known as an exclusive venue during the celebrations for Cleveland's 1896 Centennial. The armory events went way beyond the customary military balls and the Opera shows. The armory hosted events for John Philip Sousa, the Metropolitan Opera, Cleveland's 1896 Centennial, Cleveland's first auto show, and the Cleveland Orchestra. In fact, it was noticed by a plaque outside the drill hall that the Cleveland Orchestra presented its first concert in this building. Many minstrel shows were organized in the buildings too. A ticket booth stands in the front lobby of Cleveland Armory. The building remains as originally built for most parts both on the interior and in the exterior. The main lobby of the building is first seen by the visitors which is very elegant. Persian rugs and Red carpeting compliment the decorative cornices and dark woodwork. Grays Armory was originally built for housing the weapons and providing a drill hall for the military; this framework quickly evolved into a community center for the Clevenders.

In 1970, WRTOS (Western Reserve Theater Organ Society) installed and refurnished a Wurtilizer theater pipe organ in the drill hall. In 1988-89, funds were made available to establish a library of American military history in the building. A director of activities promote the use of Grays Armory by outside groups by organizing the events such as rock concerts, political rallies and rare book sales. The Grays continued to operate from the armory into the 1990's on Boliviar Road.

 

 

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