A LITTLE HISTORY...
The Hampton National Guard Armory was built in 1936 as a part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) program under the New Deal initiative. This site was one of over a dozen new construction projects funded by the WPA to house artillery units across the Mid-Atlantic. The idea to build an Armory in Hampton was spearheaded by Captain H. Clark Thompson who felt it necessary in order to house the Battery D., 111th field artillery regiment.
Built in the “moderne” style, this brick masonry building came to represent the architecture of “between two wars”, meaning between the two World Wars. Clearing of the site began on March 9, 1936 and construction of the building began less than two weeks later on March 16th. The building was constructed using 77,000 red tapestry bricks for facing and approximately 300,000 tapestry bricks for the entire building which was eventually completed in March 1937.
When the building was not being used for military training or housing arms, the Armory was meant to serve as a communal center for Hampton. It was seen as a public auditorium, gymnasium and even a concert hall. National touring acts including Otis Redding and Clarence Clemons performed in the central drill hall. The building was vacated in 1993 and had since fallen into disrepair although it remains the only Armory in the region to maintain it’s high level of architectural integrity. The building is now listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and National Register of Historic Places at the local level of significance.
The Vanguard hopes to bring that communal spirit back to the Hampton Armory by maintaining the classic industrial style while providing a communal center of live entertainment, craft brewing and small-batch distilling to the Hampton Roads region.