The hustle and bustle of modern day life is about to hit the old Duluth Armory in Duluth if things go as planned. The Armory (located next to the Plaza Shopping Center on London Road) was constructed in 1915 for as the military training center for the Minnesota National Guard. The building however did not just serve for that use, it also was the entertainment and cultural hub for the Duluth area. Artists that have played there have been Harry Truman, Bob Hope, Johnny Cash, Louis Armstrong and more! And even in 1959 Buddy Holly performed at the Armory. However, since those glory days the Armory has deteriorated at a rapid rate and years ago was on the verge of being torn down.
But now a group of investors have bought the building (and it has been placed on the national preservation list) with the hopes of restoring it to its former glory as an Arts and Music Center. The plan is for the Drill Hall to be restored to seat 2,500 people for concerts, and also be available for other uses (such as small convention shows and school dances). The Armory would also be home to the Music Resource Center, a center where youth in our community would be able to learn musical education. The center would be a place where students could not only learn about music, but also perform and record with the latest technology available in the music industry. The Armory also will have a space as a Veteran’s Tribute, a place where those who have left and fought for our country will be remembered and honored. Around the building in various spaces there will be “Musical Inspiration Spaces” where there will be tributes to the greats who have performed at the Armory since it’s opening. And last but not least, the building will also include up to 35,000 square feet of retail and office. Now most people seem a little discouraged when they hear that, but what that ultimately means is that the future of the building will be secured by those tenants due to the taxes they will pay and the amount of funding that will be brought into the Armory by them. Hopes are that a restaurant will be be built within the building, and there once was even talk of a hotel being built on to the side of the building.
Last month the Armory received quite a big boost and also the securing they needed to make the project a reality. A donor donated $1,000,000 and the group who is renovating the building secured a well known developer, The Alexander Company, both securing the future of the project. The Armory will create another unique performing arts space for Duluth and fill the void of a smaller more interment performing arts space that Duluth seems to lack!