Status: Lost Forever
November 2015: The Paterson National Guard Armory was demolished after a seven-alarm fire severely damaged the building forcing local officials to tear it down.
Paterson was the first New Jersey city to take advantage of an 1889 law enabling cities that lacked armories to purchase property to build them. This 53,800 square-foot, three-story, red brick and steel structure was completed in 1896. With a crenelated roofline and a wide, arched entryway flanked by towers, it resembles a fortress. The armory was home to the New Jersey National Guard’s Second Regiment until it was decommissioned in 1982. Soldiers deployed to the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II through its portals. It was the site of rallies during the 1913 silk strike and has been a sports and concert venue over the years.
There have been several unsuccessful attempts to find a new use for the massive structure, which has been empty for 25 years. In 2007, Mayor Jose Torres proposed selling it to a developer who had plans to turn the armory into a self-storage facility, but the City Council rejected this proposal. A 2009 plan to convert the building into a community recreation center was stalled by the nearly $12 million price tag. More recently, city leaders set up a non-profit corporation to reuse the building as a recreation or sports complex. But there has been no movement for at least a year, and high costs are most likely the obstacle. Finding investors for this once-grand historic building’s adaptive reuse is indeed a difficult challenge, nut PNJ believes that city, county, and state leaders must work together to meet it.