With 109 years under its belt and a storied past to match, the Fort Collins Armory has earned its place on the National Registry of Historic Places. These days, Bohemian Nights uses the space for Concerts at the Armory, year-round ticketed performances that pair a national artist with a local act. Before its current use, however, the building served a variety of purposes. So let’s step back in time and explore the rich history of the Armory!
Fort Collins’ First National Guard Armory
The Armory was designed in 1907 by architect Arthur Garbutt and constructed by local company M.G. Conely with local brick. It cost $18,000 to build, which equates to around $460,000 today. Located at 314 E Mountain Avenue, the building served as Fort Collins’ first permanent armory and housed around 60 National Guardsmen in Company F.
Guardsmen would hold drill practice as local citizens watched from the mezzanine. The building was also used as a community center for conventions, events and even Friday night boxing matches! The basement of the Armory featured a shooting range, marble-floored showers and horse stables. The drill hall and officers’ quarters were located on the first floor, while enlisted men’s quarters resided on the second floor.
Roller Skates, Washing Machines and More
In 1922, the National Guard vacated the Armory for a new property on College Avenue. The original building was repurposed as a roller rink, putting its smooth maple floors to good use. For most of the century, however, the Armory housed a laundromat. For 44 years, Paramount Laundry ran a successful laundry and dry cleaning business in the space.
After its long stint as a laundromat, Paramount Laundry closed its storefront and the Armory sat vacant for six years. The building became increasingly dilapidated, filled with pigeons and seemingly beyond repair, until a local business bought and renovated it in 2000. Over the next decade, it housed various businesses and retail shops.
Bohemian Nights Presents Concerts at the Armory
In 2011, Bohemian purchased the Armory and transformed it into a concert space. The first concert featured artists Ruthie Foster and Cary Morin on June 27, 2014.
Even today, the Armory’s fort-like architecture echoes its origins. A crenulated roofline fits the standard for armory architecture, emulating a sturdy castle or fortress. Inside, four-story ceilings rise over the original maple floors that speak of time spent underneath the boots of National Guardsmen, wheels of roller skates and metal edges of washers and dryers. The building is old and new at once. Its décor and renovations meld antique character with a modern feel.
Throughout the year, concert-goers fill the space. They come for both the national acts and local performers to enjoy the intimate listening experience that the Armory provides. Concerts at the Armory breathe new life into a building that has stood the test of time for more than a century.
Find out more about Concerts at the Armory and purchase tickets to an upcoming concert.