East Main Street (MD 380), Crisfield, Somerset County
The Crisfield Armory, built in 1927, is located east of downtown Crisfield in a pleasant residential neighborhood. The brick building, two stories tall with a full basement, emulates a Medieval fortification. Attached to the rear of this two-story main block is a narrower one-story drill hall. The front facade, oriented to the north, consists of one-bay divisions on either side of a central section, itself flanked by two, three-story tall towers. Basement windows have been blocked over across the entire front. The windows in the entire building have been replaced with dark tinted stationary Plexiglas panels with transoms at top and bottom. An early postcard (undated) in the possession of the building superintendent shows the front facade with 4/5 casement windows in the side sections and 2/5 casements in the towers. The bases of the first floor windows rest on the stone watertable, and those at second floor level have stone sills in each of the side sections. There are two windows at each first and second floor windows, all with flat brick arches. A line of stone coping runs across the facade above the basement level. A frieze of thin stone molding surmounting 8 stone dentils crosses each section. Four crenelles with stone caps crown the side sections. One strip buttress brackets each end of the side sections, capped with stone and with stone trims corresponding to the level of the stone watertable, the vertical center of the front wall and the dentiled frieze. The towers of the center section project slightly from the front wall plane and contain narrow windows at first and second floor levels, with some stone sills and flat brick arches. Each tower is flanked by strip buttresses capped with stone and trimmed with stone as in the side sections. A stone lozenge-shaped panel is placed at the level of the buttress caps in the center of each tower. A band of stone molding crosses the towers at a line corresponding to the stone caps on the crenelles of the center bay. The towers are crowned by three crenelles capped with stone, and a small square stone panel is centered directly beneath the center crenelles. The center front facade features a segmentally arched doorway with double doors recessed 4-5 feet, surmounted by a stone plate which identifies the building. At second floor level is a double window with flat brick arch and stone keystone at center. The seal of the State of Maryland appears in a large square stone panel at the roofline, surmounted by three crenelles with stone caps.
The Crisfield 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. Architecturally, the building embodies the distinctive characteristics of its type, including a T-shaped plan with a two-story front "head house" section and a one-story perpendicular "drill house" extending to the rear. Its facade is detailed to recall Medieval fortifications, with towers flanking the central entrance, crenellated parapets, and strip buttresses.