Business & Development, Cottage Grove

Armory starting to glow

Cottage Grove Armory gets a spruce-up. Photos Provided/Kenneth Roberts

Prepare to do a double-take if you haven’t been by the Cottage Grove Armory lately. The 88-year-old structure is looking pretty spruce with cracks repaired and gleaming new paint job.
Inside, tile-setters are hard at work creating new bathrooms on the main floor. (Anyone who has ventured down the dark, creepy stairs to the antiquated facilities in the basement will certainly appreciate this upgrade.) Even though it is fully ADA compliant and modern, the bathrooms are purposely designed, in their style and tile selection, to look old and fit in with the 1930s Art Deco building.
Slowly but surely, the Armory is moving from a diamond in the rough to a jewel in the crown of Cottage Grove’s community assets. Acquired by the City in 2009, the building faced a $3.2 million restoration which has been funded through grants, donations and fundraisers such as last year’s Mayor’s Ball.
The Armory’s beginnings can be traced back to 1922 and Company ”D” of the Oregon National Guard. They petitioned Cottage Grove’s city council for a permanent home and pointed out that additional space was also needed for community events and meetings.
Using locally available building materials and labor, the town raised a very satisfactory structure that drew praise from the members of the Adjutant General’s office.The building was ready for occupancy by March 1, 1933.
Originally, the Armory contained stables for the Calvary’s horses, a shooting range and other features to support the military nature of the Armory’s use. However, from the start, the community also found a home for many events and uses.
Ballroom dancing, coronations of Bohemia Mining Days queens, roller-skating, weekly basketball games, concerts, fairs and the Rotary Christmas Party are just some of the events held in days gone by. Additionally, many Cottage Grove natives have confessed to having gone to kindergarten in the Armory’s basement.
In more recent years, use of the building by the City and community has covered quite a kaleidoscopic spread of events. The Habitat for Humanity’s Crab Feed, Mayor’s Ball, Storybook Theatre of Cottage Grove, London School Fundraiser, Model Train Show, Coast Fork Farmers’ Winter Market, seed exchanges, weddings, family gatherings and the ”Swing the Bridge” benefit for the Swinging Bridge are just some of the recent memorable events held in the Armory.
One tradition at the Armory continues now as then: Solemn remembrance ceremonies are held each Veterans and Memorial Day at the Armory. Led by our local American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars chapters, the ceremonies honor the contributions of Cottage Grove veterans.
Coming up is the City of Cottage Grove’s fourth annual Ice Cream Social from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 24 at the Armory. Admission is free and the social promises great fun for the family, complete with 60 gallons of Umpqua ice cream and quite a variety of entertainment including music, magic, face-painting, balloon animals and classic carnival games. There also will be demonstrations of Life Flight and South Lane County Fire & Rescue’s new truck. Tickets are just a nickel to have a bowl of ice cream or play a game. Now, that’s a real family entertainment value!
Plan on coming to see the progress at the Cottage Grove Armory and have fun with the kids. It will be a great time in a great space that has seen generations of Grovers celebrating community.



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