Historic Register Recognition May Save Naval Armory

UNC’s Naval Armory has been included on the National Register of Historic Places, which should save it from demolition.

The register is the official list of buildings deemed worthy of preservation because of their historical significance. More than 98,000 properties in the United States have been designated as historic. The Naval Armory joins Old East, Playmakers Theater and the Carolina Inn as campus buildings in the register.

In a letter to Interim Chancellor Lee Roberts, Darin Waters, state historic preservation officer, said the register has been called “a roll call of tangible reminders of the history of the United States” and UNC is “most fortunate to own and preserve a property that justly deserves this honor.”

The armory, home to about 140 ROTC students, including midshipmen and cadets, was slated to be razed to make way for modern science facilities, as outlined in the University’s master plan. In May 2023, however, the Board of Trustees voted to remove the armory from a list of campus structures scheduled for demolition due to pleas from alumni to preserve the building and its history. (See “Naval Armory Saved From Demolition — For Now,” July/August 2023 Review.)

The armory was built in the 1940s to train U.S. Navy cadets. It houses the University’s Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program as well as the Air Force ROTC. Many distinguished people have trained at the facility, including former presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

“We are very grateful for the support of our UNC NROTC Alumni Association members, for the donations and letters of support, and especially the Naval Armory Preservation Committee,” Sandy Henkel ’85, member of the Naval Armory Preservation Committee, wrote on the UNC NROTC Alumni Association Facebook page. “It has taken four years to achieve this and we are very appreciative of the thorough work of our historical consultant Dr. Eric Plaag with Carolina Historical Consulting which allowed this application to pass review unquestioned at the local, state and federal levels.”

— Cameron Hayes Fardy ’23

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