March 5th, 2012

05 Mar

Bringing back the Past

By Silver Blue | 1 comment


In the town of Kenton, Ohio, where my grandmother lived, there was a beautiful building that had fallen on hard times.

The Hardin County Armory, circa 1998.

The Hardin Country Armory is the 3rd oldest and most unique Armory in Ohio.  Its architecture finely represents the Late Victorian, Richardsonian Romanesque Style.  Construction began in 1893.  The corner stone was laid with an imposing parade on August 2, 1894.  Governor William McKinley, soon to be President, and his staff were all in attendance as were many other prominent officials.  The corner stone ceremony had an estimated attendance of over 25,000 people.  The new Armory was formally dedicated on April 15, 1895 with a grandiose military ball.  Some of its interior attributes included a shooting range, plunge and steam baths, hardwood auditorium floor, and a balcony which encircled the auditorium.

Massive, two story towers combined with the sharp shooter’s ports are locked in time by the inviting yet foreboding sandstone front facade.  The life of this building has witnessed Ohio’s greatest dances, social, political, and military events.  The structure had the ability to seat and serve dinner to over 2,000 people which caused the building to lay host to the most prominent of gatherings.  One being the national Presidential campaign of 1912 when capacity audiences listened to addresses from President William H. Taft and former President Theodore Roosevelt.  The Armory has also served the United States and Ohio in every military action since its completion and up until it was vacated by the National Guard in 1991.

Locally, the Armory has served the county of Hardin as the location of community events including graduation ceremonies, school dances, political dinners, professional wrestling, and golden glove boxing matches.  The list goes on and on.  The Armory even housed one of the very first professional women’s basketball teams in the 1920’s.  Prior to and up until the completion of the present court house being erected, the Armory contained an assortment of governmental agencies and services for the county.

In 1947, the Armory was totally gutted by a fire started by two individuals from Company E who were cleaning rifles in the basement.  The beloved building was reopened in 1948 after extensive reconstruction was made to the interior.  All of the wood in the building was replaced with block and concrete construction (which makes total restoration impossible).

The Amory sat idle for six years and in that time was neglected.  The Hardin County Armory Restoration Foundation was formed in 1997 to insure that the people of Ohio can continue to use and enjoy this wonderful facility.

The Hardin County Armory, Restored, circa 2008.

I am proud to have been a part of the restoration process for the Armory, having run a web page on my site to promote the efforts of the citizens of Kenton, Ohio, and of Hardin County to restore this grand building.

The Hardin County Armory Restoration Foundation is currently taking Donations for the continued restoration of the Armory.  The foundation is a non-profit organization and has a 501 C3 rating, so all donations are tax deductible.  All donations may be submitted to the address below.  Make checks payable to:

Armory Foundation
P.O. Box 594
Kenton, OH 43326-0594

“We like to think of the Armory,
not as a building in need of repair,
but as an elegant lady with a tattered dress,
who can still smile despite her appearance.”


Silver Blue, who remembers Doris Williams (Blum) as the person who first let me into the Armory to photograph it in the state of decay it had fallen into, and Ed Rogers, who has always kept me informed through newsletters as to the restoration process.

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