The Commonwealth Armory
The 26th Y.D. Band spent many years of military training , musical rehearsals and performances at Boston's Commonwealth Armory. The following is narrative of its history.:
The Commonwealth Armory was constructed in 1914-1915. It was designed by Boston architect James E. McLaughlin to serve Boston's mounted troops, consisting of both cavalry and artillery units. Commonwealth Armory was home to Troops A, B, C, and D of the First Squadron Cavalry, Battery A of the Massachusetts Field Artillery, the Field Hospital Corps, the Ambulance Corps, and the Signal Corps. It also contained the headquarters for the First and Second Brigades as well as living quarters for 700 officers and men, along with stables for 250 horses.
The troops of Commonwealth Armory were called into action on the Mexican border in 1916, only months after the building was dedicated on December 30, 1915. Shortly after the United States entered World War I, the troops were sent overseas to fight in France. Although the troops of the Commonwealth Armory fought bravely and with distinction, many perished in the course of the several major battles they fought. Because of depleted manpower, loss of half their horses and sheer exhaustion, the troops of the Armory did not become part of the occupation of Germany. Instead, they returned home in April 1919.
Mechanization finally overtook the unique role of Commonwealth Armory as artillery horses were phased out in 1933 and the cavalry followed suit in 1940. The insignia from several of these units were prominently displayed on the building. When the building was razed in 2002, they were salvaged and are now mounted on the east wall of the sports arena.
Commonwealth Armory was an imposing structure whose red brick and limestone exterior relied on medieval fortress imagery of the Gothic Revival. The richly decorated and articulated head house included a five-story tower, along with a variety of crenellations, parapets, and buttresses. In addition, it was set back from Commonwealth Avenue behind a deep areaway that resembled a castle moat. Entrance was restricted to a bridge that spanned the moat and led into the lower section. Inside was a large entrance hall with a low groin-arched ceiling, constructed of concrete and highlighted with brick.
The Armory subsequently became a venue for shows, including The Who in 1969, and would be bought by Boston University and used as a gymnasium and venue. It was demolished in 2002 to make way for the remainder of BU's Student Village. (Waylander:Shorelander)
* * * *
(If anyone has pictures of their experiences at the Commonwealth Armory, be glad to add to this page.)