Introduction

The Armory Head House is now gone. It was woven through the lives of Salem citizens for 90 years and we will all be the poorer for its absence. The truly tragic part of this story is that this loss was so unnecessary.

Why was the Salem Armory Headhouse Important?

The Salem Armory Headhouse was architecturally significant because:

  • It was a superb example of the "castle-referencing" architecture frequently used to build American armories between 1890 and 1930.
  • It was Salem's finest surviving example in the romantic Medieval Revival Style, and featured in Architecture in Salem, An Illustrated Guide authored by Bryant Tolles in 1983.
  • Along with the Salem Depot, the armory was one of Salem's grand "Castle Style" buildings.
  • The Armory was Salem's only known work designed by John C Spofford, long time partner with Charles Brigham (of Brigham and Spofford). Brigham pioneered the romantic French Chateauesqe Style (Medieval Revival) style in New England with the Burrage House in Boston's Back Bay in 1899.

The Salem Armory Headhouse was also significant because:

  • It was Salem's best and most direct link with the Second Corps of Cadets and a proud military tradition which dates back to the Colonial Militia.
  • The Armory was also home to The Salem Light Infantry with ties to the Massachusetts Regiment during the Civil War
  • The Salem Armory was an important contributing element adjacent to the Salem Common National Historic District.
  • The Peabody Essex museum retains the original plans for the entire building as originally built. Bryant Tolles noted the February 1982 fire rendered the "facility [only] temporarily useless". The building was re-usable. Many former armory buildings have been individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and adaptively re-used for commercial buildings and civic centers.

Links to Similar New England Armories

Similar structures still standing and in use.

Cranston Street Armory
Portland Armory / Portland Regency Hotel
Springfield Armory
The Westerly Armory Restoration
Varnum Memorial Armory