Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Historic Duluth Armory

1915 was a drama. World War I had broken out the previous summer the British were getting knee deep into the thick of it as Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, presented plans for sending troops to the Dardenelles. Within days the first German zeppelin attack on Great Britain commenced.

On our side of the pond the first transcontinental telephone service was inaugurated, baseball and golf continued to entertain and Americans appeared disinterested in what was going on "over there." Even so, the first American cargo ship was sunk while delivering wheat to Russia. And as events on the Continent escalated there were increasing concerns in many quarters. Here in Duluth the government built an armory, completed in November of that year.

Nowadays armories are usually built on military bases, as they exist to store weapons and munitions. But in earlier times they were placement didn't require this. The Duluth Armory, which was built five times larger than most armories, became quite a bit more than a place to store weapons. The spacious interior became a place for the local national guard to practice military drills year 'round. When the great fires of 1918 swept across the Northland, the Armory became a place to house people who lost their homes.

The Armory is featured in this documentary.
The building also played an important role as the cultural and entertainment hub of the Duluth region. Many famous Americans appeared at the Armory – Harry Truman, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Cash, Bob Hope, and Liberace, to name a few.

And now, the historic building is 100 years old.

The friends of the armory have been planning some special events to celebrate this landmark birthday, the first of the being an outdoor celebration on Sunday, September 6th in Leif Erikson Park across London Road from the Duluth Armory. They're calling this birthday kickoff event the Armory Arts & Music Center’s Salute to the Historic Duluth Armory Music Fest.  If I have my facts straight, the actual 100th birthday will be celebrated in November.

The aim of all these activities is to raise both awareness and funding for the restoration of the building which has been an inspiration for many. To learn how you can contribute to the Armory's restoration, click here.

To learn more read these items of note about the Duluth Armory.

It will be an interesting year for Duluth, and a milestone for friends of the Armory Arts and Music Center board which has worked for so long and so tirelessly toward this end. 

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