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First Battalion Armory

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1895, Wilfred Emory Cutshaw. 122 W. Leigh St.
  • First Battalion Armory (Virginia Division of Historic Resources)

Armories were a product of the 1870–1900 period, serving as men's clubs and as institutions for enforcing order at a time of strife in the American city. Nearly every American city of any size had at least one. Richmond had five armories, but only two survive. This martial Gothic fantasy in castellated brick and terracotta is a landmark and one of the very few armories in the country built for an African American population. The design is similar to that of two other armories by Cutshaw, the city engineer, which have been demolished. Built to serve four companies of soldiers, it was a point of pride and became a civic symbol for the Jackson Ward neighborhood. Unfortunately the white military units in the city refused to recognize the African American officers' authority, and by 1899 the companies had been disbanded. The building then became the Monroe School, the public elementary school for the ward, and during World War II it served as a recreation center for African American troops. Subsequently, it again became a school, then served other uses until a fire damaged the roof and upper stories. At present, it awaits a new use.

Writing Credits

Richard Guy Wilson et al.


What's Nearby


Richard Guy Wilson et al., "First Battalion Armory", [Richmond, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, Richard Guy Wilson and contributors. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, 235-236.

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