The former Pottsville Armory building, constructed in 1913, is now home to the Schuylkill YMCA and has been since 2009. The large red brick building with a typical “T” plan was built with combinations of the Romanesque and Gothic Revival architectural styles for the storage and training needs of Company H of the 8th Infantry Division of the Pennsylvania National Guard. While in use, the horizontal section of the “T” housed the unit’s administrative offices while the vertical section housed the drill hall. The YMCA has made numerous alterations to the building’s interior in order to meet the exercise needs of its members. However, its exterior remains largely intact. The former armory was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.
brick castle-like Pottsville Armory was designed by the Wilkes-Barre
architectural firm of McCormick and French in a traditional “T” formation and
completed in 1913. The two-story administrative
building features brick turrets, battlements, stone coping, first floor brick
lintels, second floor brick window hoods, stone window sills just under the
six-by-six windows and brick soldier courses between the two floors. In its center is a three-story tower with a
brick arch entrance with stepped reveal that is held together by a large gray
keystone. Wooden double doors provided
access to the building. The armory’s
kitchen was located in the basement of this section.
back from the administrative section was the building’s drill hall that was used
to train members of the Pennsylvania National Guard. It was constructed with brick corbelling
accents just below its arched roof.
Inside, riveted steel Warren truss arches with gusset plates support its
ceiling. The 60-foot by 80-foot hall sat
atop a basement that was home to a large vehicle storage area, boiler room,
coal room, and various storage rooms.
The hall also contained a balcony that led to locker, CQ (charge of
quarters) and classrooms.
Schuylkill YMCA took over the old armory building in May of 2009 and still
operates out of it. The first YMCA opened
in Schuylkill County in Pottsville in the 1930s and maintained a presence until
it closed its doors sometime in the 1970s.
It returned at a different location in 1997 and eventually acquired the armory
as its new home. The YMCA made major
renovations to the interior of the armory, adding a gymnasium, wellness center
and group exercise rooms among other things.
It then consolidated its YWCA at this location after it was unable to
afford the maintenance costs at the mansion that housed the YWCA along South
Centre Street. It continued renovations
in 2015 when it added a women’s locker room, to include showers and improved
the lighting in the gym. For the most
part, the building’s exterior looks similar to how it did throughout its
existence with the only major alterations being the addition of emergency exits
and the renovation of the main entrance where the original wooden doors have
been replaced with modern glass versions.
Now, just over 100 years since its construction, the building still
serves the community, just in a much different manner.