The Central Armory

A few days past I was walking around Downtown Cleveland and happened to notice the banal Federal Building on corner of Lakeside Avenue and East Ninth. I started to wonder what had been on that spot prior. Certainly, something horrible had to be positioned on that corner for the City and the Federal Government decided to build perhaps the most boring building on the planet. Well, I was dumfounded after doing some research and realizing that the structure on that spot was none other than the Central Armory. And she was a “gothic beauty.”

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Photo Archives.

The Central Armory was built in 1893 by Cuyahoga County to house the local units of the National Guard. It played a central role in the Industrial Exposition of 1909 when it has connected by a temporary walking bridge to a exhibition hall on the north side of Lakeside. The Exposition was a massive industrial show that highlighted the growing importance of Cleveland as the center of the manufacturing universe.

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

Coupled with City Hall the Central Armory was an iconic symbol of Cleveland might and power.

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

The Armory was essentially a large constructed hall with a balcony suspended from the roof. It was the venue for many meetings, concerts, gymnastic exhibitions and a popular floral exposition. The Central Armory offered the rapidly expanding City a sense of safety and progress. It certainly didn’t hurt when the cavalry was around either!

Photo provided courtesy of the Cleveland Press Archives.

The building was, unfortunately, demolished in 1965 for the Urban Development project now known as the Anthony J. Celebrezze Federal Office Building. A real shame, the Central Armory was that rare gem of architecture that made Downtown Cleveland alive. I cannot say the same of its replacement.


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 ( this fall.

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