Sheboygan Municipal Auditorium and Armory

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Sheboygan Municipal Auditorium and Armory
Sheboygan Armory Winter.png
Sheboygan Armory Winter 2.png
Former names Sheboygan National Guard Armory and Auditorium
Alternative names The Sheboygan Armory
General information
Status Vacant
Type Auditorium and Armory
Architectural style Streamline Moderne
Address 516 Broughton Drive
Sheboygan, Wisconsin 53081
Country  United States
Construction started January 1941
Completed May 22, 1942
Inaugurated July 4, 1942
Cost $204,000
Owner City of Sheboygan
Technical details
Floor count 3
Design and construction
Architect Edgar A. Stubenrauch
Main contractor Works Progress Administration
Other information
Seating capacity Basketball: 3,160
Wrestling: 3,690
Concerts: 3,680
Website
www.sheboyganarmory.org

Sheboygan Municipal Auditorium and Armory (commonly known as The Armory) is 52,000 sq. ft indoor arena located on the lakefront in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. It was built in Streamline Moderne style in 1941 as a Works Progress Administration project. The building seats 3,974 with permanent balcony seating and bleacher seating on the floor level.

History[edit]

The Sheboygan Municipal Auditorium and Armory was designed by Sheboygan architect Edgar Stubenrauch[1] and built in 1941 as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project.[2] The WPA was an organization created by an executive order by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935. The Sheboygan Armory, the Sheboygan County Courthouse, the city's main post office, Farnsworth Jr. High/Middle School and the original Sheboygan North High School building (now Urban Middle School) were a part of the 116,000 buildings that were built by WPA.

The Armory was built on a former lumberyard of the Freyberg Lumber Co. owned by the Freyberg Novelty Furniture Company with an adjacent factory south of Pennsylvania Avenue and North 4th Street.[3] However, proposed building location was once in Lake Michigan at the original mouth of the Sheboygan River. The proposed design was of reinforced concrete except for a steel bowstring truss roof. The exterior walls of the building also are concrete.

The original intended purpose of the Armory was to house Wisconsin Army National Guard's 32nd Division. The building was equipped with ammunition lockers and vaults for guns and other military equipment used by the Guard. The Armory hosted the National Basketball Association's Sheboygan Redskins from 1942 until 1951. The building was the site of high school basketball games, circuses and other local events such as blood drives, and when the city's Hmong American community began to flourish in the mid-1980s, became the site of Hmong New Year celebrations.

In August 1989, the city had plans to build a riverfront hotel. Developers had considered building a 125 to 150-room hotel along the Sheboygan River with renovation of the Armory as a conference.[4] A study commissioned by the Sheboygan Development Corp. estimated the hotel project would require a city subsidy of about $3 million.

In 2005, the Sheboygan Development Corporation announced plans to acquire the Armory to build a $17 million Spaceport Sheboygan Space & Science Center. The project would have develop further entertainment and tourism opportunity in Sheboygan and expand the State of Wisconsin’s economic position in the field of aerospace technology. Plans called for a combined large format theater and planetarium, an interactive mission control center, classrooms and learning labs, a restaurant and retail store, a satellite NASA Educator Resource Center and home of the Rockets for Schools program.[5]

In 2006, officials announced plans to close the Armory due to costs of operating the building.[6]

In 2010, the City of Sheboygan approved a lease 5 year lease with Great Lakes Aerospace Science and Education Center to house Spaceport Sheboygan.

In 2011, Spaceport Sheboygan opened to the public.[7] The building was used by the Great Lakes Aerospace Science & Education Center (GLASEC) until 2013 when Spaceport Sheboygan relocated across the Sheboygan River to the city's South Pier District into the former Triple Play Fun Zone building.[8]

Notable events[edit]

The building hosted the NBA's Sheboygan Redskins from 1942 until 1951. It was the site of the cross-town basketball rivalry between Central/South High and North High from the building's opening until 2006, when both schools opened large on-campus fieldhouses that seat approximately 3,000.

Many of the events that helped shape generations of Sheboyganites were held at this venue. Local events, such as Lakeland College basketball games, Boy Scout Scout-o-Ramas, Rockets for Schools, the Hmong Festival, the Festival of Trees, the Mayor's International Festival, job fairs, and military gatherings, took place here, along with nationally-known entertainment, such as All Star Wrestling, Golden Gloves boxing, the Harlem Globetrotters, Hank Williams Jr., Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show, Johnny Carson, and circuses.

Future[edit]

In 2009, the Sheboygan Armory Foundation was formed to preserve the building[9] and the group incorporated as a 501(c) non-profit organization in 2013 after plans of demolition were made public.

In January 2014, the City of Sheboygan formally requested proposals from developers to rejuvenate the Armory. Proposals for the Armory were due by October 2014.[10] The first proposal that was public came from The Armory Foundation, which said it would partner with the city in seeking grants, donations and volunteers to help restore the building.[11]

In December 2014, it was announced the Sheboygan Armory would likely be demolished after development plans surfaced. JD Real Estate Investment Partners submitted a proposal to the city to turn the Armory site into multi-family housing.[12] The company confirmed the Armory would have to be demolished to make room for housing development, saying the building is "functionally obsolete" and would cost too much to refurbish for another use. However later that month, the city announced plans to sell the Armory and the eastern portion of the surrounding land to the Sailing Education Association of Sheboygan (SEAS) for one dollar.[13] SEAS will bulldoze the Armory by June 2015 and start construction of its headquarters on the land by April 2016. The center would be used to house and maintain sailing vessels, run SEAS administrative operations and provide educational opportunities.

In January 2015, the city's Historic Preservation and Housing Rehabilitation Commission held a joint meeting with the city's Finance Committee to decide if the Armory has enough significance that it should be preserved, putting a hold on the pending sale to SEAS.[14] At the meeting, the committee voted 4-3 to mark the Armory as a preferred preserved significant building. As a result, there is a 90-day hold on any demolition permits for the building to give time to explore alternate preservation attempts.[15] If no viable alternative proposals come forward during that time frame, there would be nothing to stop demolition of the building.

On March 23, 2015, the Sailing Education Association of Sheboygan announced they are scrapping plans to demolish the Armory[16] and has instead purchased the old Military Heritage Museum several blocks to the west along the Sheboygan River. With the group pulling out of the project, the City of Sheboygan will have to go back to the drawing board on how to handle the landmark building putting demolition plans on hold.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "516 Broughton Drive". Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory. Retrieved 23 March 2015. 
  2. ^ "Sheboygan Armory Project Is Assured". The Milwaukee Journal. May 27, 1940. 
  3. ^ Dippel, Beth (February 6, 2015). "Found document details Armory's origins". The Sheboygan Press. Retrieved 23 March 2015. 
  4. ^ Romell, Rick (August 28, 1989). "Waterfront development brings Sheboygan new life". The Milwaukee Sentinel. 
  5. ^ Petrie, Bob (August 18, 2005). "'Spaceport' proposed for armory". The Sheboygan Press. 
  6. ^ LaRose, Eric (September 20, 2006). "City may shut down Armory". The Sheboygan Press. 
  7. ^ Benson, Dan (June 17, 2011). "Spaceport Sheboygan now open to the public". The Sheboygan Press. 
  8. ^ Kinzel, Mike. "Spaceport Sheboygan is Moving". WHBL 1330 AM. 
  9. ^ The Sheboygan Armory Foundation http://thearmoryfoundation.com/?page_id=23. Retrieved 23 January 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ Kinzel, Mike. "City Seeks Proposals for the Armory". WHBL 1330 AM. 
  11. ^ Kinzel, Mike (January 6, 2014). "Efforts Underway to Save the Armory". WHBL 1330 AM. Retrieved 23 January 2015. 
  12. ^ Smathers, Jason. "Housing project proposed for Sheboygan Armory site". The Sheboygan Press. Retrieved 23 January 2015. 
  13. ^ Smathers, Jason. "City of Sheboygan reaches deal on Armory". The Sheboygan Press. Retrieved 23 January 2015. 
  14. ^ "New try to preserve Armory building in Sheboygan". Milwaukee Business Journal. Retrieved 23 January 2015. 
  15. ^ Smathers, Jason. "Commission gives Armory 90-day reprieve". The Sheboygan Press. Retrieved 23 January 2015. 
  16. ^ "SEAS finds new HQ, backs out of armory deal". The Sheboygan Press. March 23, 2015. Retrieved 23 March 2015. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°45′0″N 87°42′19″W / 43.75000°N 87.70528°W / 43.75000; -87.70528