Fifth Regiment Armory
219-247, Hoffman St., W., Baltimore, Baltimore City
The Fifth Regiment Armory is an imposing, fortress-type structure situated in midtown Baltimore northwest of the central business district. The building with its landscaped parking lots and pedestrian walks forms an island accessible on all four sides by wide, attractive city avenues. It consists of a full basement, a first floor containing a 200’ x 300’ drill hall, a mezzanine or "balcony" level, and a newer second level (reconstructed 1933) housing the trussed steel drill hall roof. The foundation materials are brick, cinder block, and poured cement. The symmetrical front façade, oriented to the north (towards Hoffman Street), has 22 bays in the newer second floor finished in glazed brick, centered over the 13 bays of the original lower section, which is faced with gray granite. The center block, projecting slightly from the side sections, is characterized by a tall, rounded stone arch with a keystone, over wide, slightly recessed doors. Buttresses, parapets, and casement windows decorate the façade, along with a crenellated roofline, giving the appearance of a medieval fortification.
The Fifth Regiment Armory is primarily significant for its association with the reorganization and expansion of the National Guard system in the 20th century. It derives additional significance from its role as a social center for its community, a function it has served continuously since its construction date. As Maryland’s oldest armory building, constructed in 1901, it does not conform to the standard architectural form which was established in the World War I era; however, it has architectural significance in its own right as a unique design by the prestigious firm of Wyatt and Nolting. After a series of damaging fires, the roof and interior of the entire building were completely destroyed by an uncontrollable blaze in 1933. Wyatt and Nolting were recalled to the site to rebuild all but the exterior shell of the first floor and balcony.