162 E. Water Street
Demolished in August of 1978, the Kalamazoo Armory Building (aka Michigan Armory Building) stood at 162 E. Water Street for more than six decades, serving as the headquarters for Company C battalion of the Michigan National Guard. By the mid 1970s, the need for additional space to store equipment and military vehicles precipitated the National Guard to look for a new home; which they found when they relocated to Oshtemo Township, settling just southwest of the corner of Parkview Avenue and 12th Street. The razing of the armory left a downtown parking lot in its place, a portion of which survives today.
“On July 8, 1909, Company M. was formed in Kalamazoo. With the formation of a second company the necessity of a new and larger armory was apparent and Kalamazoo started the campaign for a new armory and conventional hall.” Kalamazoo Gazette, 16 November 1913
After receiving $30,000 in state aid in 1911, combined with $10,000 raised by the city, the building was ready for construction. The imposing castle-like structure was designed by Battle Creek architect Maurice P. Carney, and built by contractors John P. and Stephen J. DeRight. When the armory was completed on October 1st, only the Detroit Armory was larger in scale.
The dedication of the building on the 19th and 20th of November included a visit from Governor Woodbridge N. Ferris, the Michigan brigade staff, the staff of the Second regiment, fourteen companies of infantry, military men from all parts of the state, and a parade.
The armory served as the local induction center for incoming members during both peaceful times and during times of war. Members also used the large structure to train, to organize and to perform drills. Until 1960, the armory’s Water Street neighbor to the west was the Kalamazoo Public Safety Department building. For many local residents who were not connected to the armory’s primary function, the building was a popular social venue to attend entertainment attractions, sporting events and to listen to a variety of speakers. Dances, musical concerts, wedding receptions, art exhibits, conventions, expositions, and professional wrestling matches were all held at the hall over the years.
For more information about Company ‘C’ and its 19th century beginnings as the Kalamazoo Light Guard, see Bob Puckett’s Kalamazoo’s Own Company ‘C’, published in 1947.
Article written by Ryan Gage, Kalamazoo Public Library staff, March 2023
“Great military parade will be feature of dedication of new Michigan Armory in city”
Kalamazoo Gazette, 17 October 1913
“New state armory dedication here will mark notable anniversary”
Kalamazoo Gazette, 16 November 1913
Kalamazoo’s own Company ‘C’ (1947), Bob Puckett (H 355.37 P9772)
Local History Room Files
Subject File: Buildings – Kalamazoo – Water, E., 162