Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Golden National Guard Armory, Golden, CO

The Golden National Guard Armory was built in 1913 for use by the Colorado National Guard as quarters, mess hall, auditorium, and, perhaps not so surprisingly, an armory. The building is located at 1301 Arapahoe St. in downtown Golden, CO.

The building is notable because of its construction, using local cobblestone and fieldstone.The building was designed by James H. Gow, an English architect who had designed similar buildings in his home country. The Golden Armory is said to be an exact duplicate of a building that Gow had built in England using much the same materials and methods of construction. It has been claimed that the Golden Armory is the largest cobblestone building still standing in the United States, and it is certainly the largest cobblestone building west of the Mississippi River.

Local historical lore mentions Gow walking along Clear Creek in central Golden collecting river rocks and throwing them into his horse-drawn wagon. While residents at first thought nothing of the habit, they became curious when they realized that Gow had collected some 3,300 wagon loads of stone, totaling nearly 6,600 tons of cobblestone, fieldstone, and native quartz. It took nearly three years of hard work, but by 1916 the "Globe" a local Golden newspaper, was reporting that the building was near completion and that the Colorado National Guard was preparing to move into their new headquarters.

During the 1918 influenza epidemic the Golden Armory was used as an emergency Red Cross hospital, and in 1933, during the height of post-Depression federal works projects, the building was used as the regional headquarters for the Civil Works Administration.

The Golden Armory was used by the Colorado National Guard until 1971, when the building was purchased by a private investor. It has served a variety of uses since then, with the upper floors being used for office space, and the lower floors offering commercial and retail spaces.

Getting There By Bike...
The Armory is located just outside of downtown Golden, which is a great place to do some historic exploration. The city has done an excellent job of developing plaques and historical guides for the area. There are also some great parks along the banks of Clear Creek. The main drag through downtown Golden, Washington St., is not super bicycle friendly, but a lot of the streets that parallel it are fine.

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