Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Detroit Naval Armory

In 1893, the Michigan naval militia was formed, which would eventually become Navy and Marine Corps Reserve units. The militia was considered a pastime for wealthy Detroiters but soon became a valuable asset when they fought in both the Spanish-American War and World War I. By 1929, over 600 men had been recruited and they outgrew their headquarters. The State of Michigan and the city of Detroit raised $375,000 to build a new armory for the reserves. The structure was constructed out of limestone and it included a vestibule, a drill hall, a section for offices, and a company drill hall.

The new armory, called the Detroit Naval Armory, opened in 1930 and was used as a training facility and as a site for civic events including dances, USO mixers, and sporting events. The open drill deck became grounds for Joe Louis’ first career fight. The armory is also home to the largest collection of federally-funded Depression-era artwork in the state. During World War II the armory was used as barracks and as a schoolhouse for Navy diesel and electrical schools. Eventually the armory was renamed the R. Thornton Brodhead Armory in memory of its first Naval leader.


Brodhead Naval Armory

Detroit Naval Armory postcard

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