Archive for the ‘Armory Success Stories’ Category


Development Committee Releases Plan for Veterans Memorial Center at the Armory

July 23, 2012

Site Plan for Armory Center

In response to the recently issued Request For Proposals (RFP), a Development Committee has submitted a plan to restore the iconic Armory and bring new life to the region with a mix of performance art, fine dining and Veterans Services. A premiere venue, unique to the area, enhancing the quality of life for all of New Rochelle and, indeed, the region. From their Mission Statement “The Mission of the proposed Veterans Memorial Center for the Performing Arts (the “Center”) is to serve as a cultural hub for the community to engage in educational opportunities and enhance understanding and enjoyment of life through the creation and presentation of the arts. .”

The plan wil be reviewed by city council in a process designed to pick from multiple submissions, so it’s up to you to make your voices heard. Don’t sit back and wait for it to happen, this is all about bringing out the best of what New Rochelle has to offer.

Spend a few minutes and enjoy this plan for the next chapter in New Rochelle’s history. You won’t be disappointed.

Veterans Memorial Center
for the Performing Arts

Proposal Mission Statement​​

The Mission of the proposed Veterans Memorial Center for the Performing Arts (the “Center”) is to serve as a cultural hub for the community to engage in educational opportunities and enhance understanding and enjoyment of life through the creation and presentation of the arts. We will accomplish this by establishing a premier venue for performing and visual arts and building a dynamic center for local, regional and national arts groups.

Furthermore, through the establishment of this Center for the Performing Arts, we will again be bringing to life and rededicating a historical structure, the New Rochelle Naval Armory, the permanent home of the 31st Fleet Division of the New York Naval Militia. This initiative is dedicated to all those who have passed through its portals since 1933 and to all those to whom the Armory has served as a training ground and meeting place.

The historical significance of this edifice will become the driving force to help dedicate permanent space within the Center to assist Veterans and to provide a support system for job placement and navigating through the intricacies of the Veterans Administration medical program.



Stay tuned for more information and commentary from the Development Committee


A Reader Asks About the Armory

June 5, 2012

Through the “contact us” section of the site, a reader named Jack asks the question “What do you think should be housed inside the Armory that will give back and benefit the community?”.

Great question Jack and thanks for taking the time to visit our site and wanting to learn more about the Armory. The Save Our Armory Committee has always been of the opinion that this building, aside from its historic significance, should house something for everyone. The area known as the drill deck, which is the open floor area under the barrel roof, is approximately 14,000 sq/ft of open floor plan. This lends itself to many venues such as art festivals, trade shows, events for children (sporting, dance troops, poetry readings etc).  There’s room for a distinctive catering facility, museum (did you know that while we all have heard of Norman Rockwell, that during the same time New Rochelle was the hub of just about every great illustrator in the country?** Most belonging to the New Rochelle Arts Council). Of course a Veterans support center would be fitting as more and more troops return home needing a single clearing house for access to services. Why you can even have programming as varied as from special olympic events to Green Technology trade shows. All of this programming does something that no amount of housing can ever do, it engages the community and brings us together to celebrate not only what we do here in New Rochelle, but it does it in a place that is as much a part of our culture as no other building in New Rochelle. We will never  have a place as distinctive both architecturally and historical as this icon in New Rochelle. So let’s take the opportunity in front of us and make it a reality. Please take a moment to read these articles ;

Have You Been to These Venues Lately?

The New Rochelle Armory – Preservation for Fun and Profit

The New Rochelle Armory – Can You Answer This Question?

Lamenting Our Loss – There Are No Do Overs

Again, Thank You for your interest and consider being part of the vision and remember:

It’s YOUR Armory

**Harold Anderson, Franklin Booth, George Brehm, Worth Brehm, Clare Briggs, Nell Brinkley, Daniel Content, Dean Cornwell, John Philip Falter, Victor Clyde Forsythe, Walter Beach Humphrey, F.X. Leyendecker, J.C. Leyendecker, Tom Lovell, Orson Byron Lowell, Al Parker, Edward Penfield, C. Coles Phillips, Frederic Remington, Mead Schaeffer, Remington Schuyler, Donald Teague, George T. Tobin, Edmund F. Ward, and Revere Wistefuff.


Bi-partisan Victory New Rochelle Armory

April 18, 2012
Post Card of the New Rochelle Armory ca.1930's

Pristine and Ready for Service to the Community and the World

In a stunning 7-0 vote, the New Rochelle City Council voted tonight to approve a re-stated Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to developer Forest City Residential. Coupled and running concurrently with the MOU will be the city’s issuance of a Request for Proposal (RFP) seeking options for the adaptive re-use of the Armory. This essentially places the historic building into the mix as a major player in the overall scheme for development of the Echo Bay waterfront.

The surprising vote was the result of Council’s last-minute “tweaking” of the latest version of the MOU. Under the revised plan, the time frame for coming back to the table has been shortened from 18 months to 8 months. This will give  City Council the opportunity to  review the proposals for the Armory, Echo Bay and the plans for the city yard at Beechmont side by side offering a view of how the various components will relate to each other. One of the fundamental sticking points was in keeping the Armory building and its property intact. Originally, Forest City was planning to destroy the Armory to make way for housing. Subsequent plans by the developer had envisioned cutting off the “annex” part of the Armory and taking over the property behind the Armory. Under pressure from Councilman Hyden and others, the plan now calls for separating the Armory and its property from the development envelope so as to allow interested parties to have a feasible parcel to work with in the new Armory design.

We salute Council for working together in the interest of the City and realizing the significance of this historical building. As reported in an article from Talk of the Sound , “This is a win for everybody,” said Ron Tocci, co-chair of the Save Our Armory Committee. “It shows its possible to have bipartisan agreement for the good of the City.” . This is a monumental step in the right direction. We’ve gone from the city’s outright refusal to co-operate with restoration efforts to  actively participating in the discussion to explore the potential. It’s a win-win for everyone, especially the residents of New Rochelle. The Save Our Armory Committee would like to thank the bi-partisan support in making this first step possible. Cooperation at this level is fundamental to bringing about the support needed to allow this historic icon to return to service. Service to the community, remembering the sacrifices of our Veterans and reinforcing our commitment to preserving history to help shape our future.


Armories – Then and Now

February 20, 2011
Illinois Armory Postcard - Then

The potential of this building has been realized

In this series,  we will begin to look at various armories around the country in an effort to represent how their intrinsic value served as a foundation to link the past with the future. While the actual applications may vary, you’ll start to see a theme of community enrichment on so many levels.

A marvelous structure from both design and engineering standpoints, the Armory now houses the University of Illinois Men’s and Women’s Track and Field events. From the UI Fighting Illini Facilities website : ” When completed the Armory was the largest free-span, no center support system, structure in the world.  The “drill hall” now referred to as the main floor, measures 200 feet by 400 feet with a ceiling height of 98 feet.” * Impressive in its own right.

Intercollegiate athletics, local sports at a national level, just one of the many ways these grand structures continue to weave the fabric of a local society as they unlock the potential of future generations.  97 years of service, generations of students moving on to change the world, setting the example for those who follow. Go ILLINI !

Illinois Armory - present day

A Stellar Example Reinforcing the "Rich in History" Theme


A cluster of mediocre co-ops or a community enrichment facility in a historical setting, what would serve the interest of New Rochelle best? The answer is clear.






* cited from the University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics. For more information or to show your support visit;

Historical postcard courtesy of  US Town Views “The largest town postcard website”.  Visit their site, there’s something for everyone.



The New Rochelle Armory – Crazy Enough? Let’s Hope Not

April 3, 2010

The following is a reprint of a commentary from Talk of the Sound on 7/6/09. We can see how one community appreciated the value of a community asset and built upon it to enrich their city as a whole.

 The Armory Series: Are We Crazy Enough to Tear Down Our Most Valuable Asset?

Submitted by John D on Mon, 07/06/2009 – 22:44.


The world premiere production of Crazy Enough will not take place at the New Rochelle Center Stage at the Armory so it will not be weaving music and story into a ride through the darkest alleys and brightest vistas faced by the human mind. Instead, the Armory sits idle, awaiting Noam Bramson’s wrecking ball.

If we take a look at some stellar examples of the principles I spoke of earlier, we can use some imagination and apply some of their best ideas to the Armory. I often point to the Portland Center Stage Armory for many reasons but primarily for Portland’s approach to their project . At one point, the Portland Armory was to be demolished but it was saved at the last moment. In that particular case, salvation came in the form of a theater company looking for a home.

The engineering firm behind the reinvention of the Portland Armory as a theater space:

Its arched doorways and distinctive architectural style make it a magnet for visitors. To create new chapters in its rich history, it recently opened as a permanent home for Portland Center Stage. A sizable portion of the interior space was designed for the community to gather, learn, work and be entertained.

Portland Center Stage Armory space was larger than the New Rochelle Armory but the same principles apply.

This place is not only a revenue success , it is a complete neighborhood success story. Moving forward with New Rochelle’s Armory will stimulate growth that is sustainable but not overdeveloped . Setting the tone for a neighborhood of scale and density that is relative to the area surrounding it . There would be no need to forcibly develop housing for 3000 people , overcrowding and saturating the serene nature of the surrounding blocks . This would be in keeping with the “seamless weaving” of the area as put forth by Jim Freer who described the concept of the latest Echo Bay development. The quality of life for  Sutton Manor , Premium Point , the East End , and Sunhaven would be enhanced rather than encroached upon. There has already been talk of resident permit parking to control the overflow of traffic and the loss of parking on streets like Stephenson Blvd from the size of the Forest City plans. Is that a benefit for those around Echo Bay?

The state transferred the Armory to New Rochelle with the express condition it be maintained for public use unlike the sale of David’s Island which was not sold to the City of New Rochelle with any such provision. Public use means just that — the Armory as a site to engage the public whether that be through historical conservation, as a remembrance of the selfless contributions of New Rochelle’s generations, sparking the minds of thousands of children, a showcase for the best of what New Rochelle has to offer, a green/environmental showcase, a home for local performing arts groups like the New Rochelle Opera and more. Done right, the Amory can serve as a catalyst for growth in and around Echo Bay and make any Echo Bay development a more attractive place to live, work or play not less. To simply tear down a landmark facility so a real estate developer can increase density on a parcel of land is not just a failure of our local government but a failure of imagination all around.


The New Rochelle Armory – Green Building=Green for the Taxpayer

March 17, 2010


( This is a reprint from a story written for Talk of the Sound . It has been edited for clarity not for content)

“The greenest building is the one that’s already built” is not just a new catchphrase . It is a proven concept that is being applied to historic and non historic buildings all across the country . Take the Portland Armory as an example . In the Jan ’07 issue of Metropolis , Brian Libby writes “In October it became the first historic-building renovation to earn a LEED Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council—a transformation that illuminates just how tricky (yet ultimately feasible) it can be to strike a balance between the principles of sustainability and preservation.” . Numerous other projects are realizing how clear the choice is when trying to save a significant piece of a cultures history and move forward with development .From we hear “We wanted to preserve it, the historical significance of it,” said Seth Patton, vice president for finance and management at Denison University, referring to Cleveland Hall. “It’s an attractive old building. It also fits into current thinking on environmental sustainability – to reuse what you can rather than tearing down and starting over.” “Everyone likes to throw the ‘green’ word around, especially with new construction,” Jenkins said. “Actually, one of the greenest ways to act in the construction industry is to reuse existing structures. The amount of resources and the carbon footprint is pretty much nonexistent in comparison to building a new building.” (emphasis added) Save the history while saving the planet . Sounds pretty good to me .

When you start to calculate the true costs of a building and it’s replacement you begin to see the energy savings in gained by reuse . Using a simple embedded energy and demolition calculator from , you could expect to save the equivalent of about one million gallons of gas just by NOT razing the Armory . From www.earth911.c0m/blog/2009/02/23/the-greenest-buildingcomes this quote .

“The crucial element in the loss of embodied energy is that it cannot be regained. Granted, building salvage businesses are alive and well, but on the whole, a great deal of energy, carbon emissions, materials, time and labor are gone when a building is taken down.” .

So it’s not just theory , proponents see the critical savings across the board from an environmental and historical standpoint .

Now that we’ve saved the world , where do we go ? The possibilities are endless if you use a vision of success instead of failure . The Armory could/ should be the premier showcase for what’s possible with green technology today . Solar and wind power , passive heating and cooling , recaptured rainwater (look at the roof – thousands and thousands of gallons saved) . Build this in an exposed setting and you will have children from every school within driving distance , every day, lining up to witness the possibilities . Imagine what a springboard for their minds this would be, sparking the next wave of builders ,engineers, architects , dreamers for a brighter future. Build THIS Armory and New Rochelle will be the spotlight of the nation, a place that all would be jealous off, the leader in the global fight to improve the world. People all over would ask ” where can WE get an Armory” . I would even bet President Obama would make a visit to pat us all on the back . He IS a major fan of going green .

From a green standpoint there is no question about what’s right or wrong . The answer is clear. Save the Armory

While your at it , read  “Why Would you save the Armory”   and check out the links to some of the other Armory success stories. I have yet to find a city, or mayor who has chosen to ignore the value of the jewel in their possession . Don’t let it happen here

When the kids are finished with the daytime events , grownups can enjoy one of the many venues possible with a space like this . Read “Have you been to these venues lately ?” and see the possibilities.

It’s YOUR Armory  – USE IT – Don’t Lose  It !


New Rochelle Armory Preservation for Fun and Profit

February 20, 2010

Unlimited  potential right here, right now. From cultural enrichment to a sustainable and environmentally sound showcase, we can be  at the forefront of what other cities strive to be. Get involved.


The New Rochelle Armory – Can You Answer This Question?

February 17, 2010

Why Would YOU Save the Armory?

In a brilliant red white and blue display of soldiers on their way to the battle of White Plains, a silhouette by Norman Rockwell greets you as you enter the city. Below this amazing piece of Americana is a sign proclaiming “New Rochelle Rich in History”. This one piece, meticulously restored, says so much about this fine city. There is, however, more than meets the eye.

A large, one of a kind structure sits on Main Street. One of very few Naval Armories ever built in the U.S. It is a part of our history and the culture of this city and has helped define our place in this world today by serving us throughout the past. From those who were sent off to fight the “war to end all wars”, to those who marshaled to contribute to the recovery efforts in the aftermath of September 11th this edifice takes it’s place in our society as no other place can. The sole survivor of an era that will forever be forgotten if we do not do what we are compelled to do, for the sake of those before us, and those that will follow. The clearest vision will see the capacity that exists in a building we already own. The potential to deliver the best of what New Rochelle has to offer cannot be overlooked. The possibilities are endless if you look outside the box.

Imagine a vibrant and energetic arts center or museum and interpretive historical center that would engage the community. A living tribute to what those of this city might have become had they not paid the price of answering their country’s call. A forum for those yet to come. It’s been said that no soldier ever dies until he is forgotten. What better way to honor our history of contribution than by celebrating in life. This is the time to make history for all of the right reasons. When we look back, will the urban development fall under the “rich in history” category?

Many other cities have embraced their armory by committing themselves to making the right choice for not only their history, but for the future:

The Armory Art Center – Palm Beach, FL
The Armory Center for the Arts – Pasadena,CA
Armory Square – Syracuse, NY
Bataan Armory Museum – Santa Fe, NM
Portland Armory Center Stage – Portland, OR
Armory Art and Music Center – Duluth, MN

There is also the additional environmental bonus. There is a saying that the greenest building is the one that’s already built. When you take into account the effort and energy to raze this building, site prep, landfill disposal, and alternate construction compared to reusing and adapting this historical site you’ll see the bonus. The investment relative to value of the building is small. Relative to the cultural and historical value, it’s even less.

I would urge anyone to learn the facts surrounding this icon before forming your opinion.

So, Why Would You Save The Armory? Maybe the question should be Why Wouldn’t You Save The Armory?