Grays Armory

One of the more spectacular buildings in Downtown Cleveland is tucked away off Prospect Avenue and East Fourteenth offers an interesting view of Cleveland’s great past. I am, of course, talking about Grays Armory home of the Cleveland Grays. The building is a massive five story sandstone castle that stands tall and protects the southern flank of Downtown. And it holds a wonderful history. During the 19th century – most major cities sponsored their own militias. Complete with their own uniforms, flags, weapons and if you can believe it – their own marching bands.

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

Yes, that is the actual Cleveland Grays marching band. The Cleveland Grays were formed in 1837 but did not build their own armory until 1893.The Armory actually stands on Bolivar Avenue and offers a 10,000 square foot ballroom, a basement shooting range, a wood-paneled library and an extension collection of military memorabilia. The Gray’s, themselves, were a successful military unit. The unit served proudly in the Civil War (with battles at Manassas and First Bull Run), the Spanish American War, the Mexican Punitive Expedition (with General Pershing) and World War I. In fact, the Meuse-Argonne Offensive on the Western Front in 1918 was the last active service of the Unit. The building has been transformed from an actual fort to a museum. Yet, the building remains a dynamic venue.

The Armory as seen from Prospect Avenue.

The building was the site of the first Cleveland Orchestra concert and is legendary of having a few ghosts. But if ever in Downtown and can spare a few moments, don’t be afraid to visit this wonderful old structure.

Grays Armory as seen from Erie Street Cemetery.

The building was the site of the first Cleveland Orchestra concert and is legendary of having a few ghosts. But if ever in Downtown and can spare a few moments, don’t be afraid to visit this wonderful old structure.

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About Tech Czar
Former "Tech Czar" for the City of Cleveland, fascinated by the civic space, history (Cleveland & Military), entrepreneurship, social media, food and travel. My first book on Cleveland history will be published by History Press (www.historypress.net) this fall.

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