Officer’s Quarters

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Last week, we toured the main armory building at the Springfield Armory National Historic Site. The armory was a large facility which grew over time in terms of the property added to the installation and the number of buildings. In the mid-1960s, when the armory was no longer a viable site for weapons production. The site and the buildings were turned over to the State of Massachusetts The original armory building and surrounding grounds are now part of a U.S. National Historic Site. The other buildings and grounds are now the campus of Springfield Tecnical Community College (STCC, pronounced Stick).

The buildings being used today for education, were once used for manufacturing, material storage, the boarding of horses and the housing of workers and military personnel assigned to the armory. Most of this post is focused on two of these buildings, the commandant’s residence and the junior officer’s residence. The information which follows is from the NIS web page.

Quarters 1, or the Commanding Officer’s Quarters, built under the direction of Major James Wolfe Ripley between 1845-1847, replaced the 1820 Superintendent’s Quarters located on what is now the site of the Main Arsenal, Building 13 and was condemned in 1843.

Continuously for almost 170 years the Commanding Officer’s Quarters housed the Superintendents and Commandants of Springfield Armory, beginning with Major James Ripley and ending with Lt. Colt C.B. Zumwalt when the Armory closed in April 1968.

Under the direction of Major James Ripley, Springfield Armory underwent many changes. Ripley wrote to the Ordnance Department “…little has been done for many years in the way of improving the grounds about the Armory, and their appearance is anything but creditable to the establishment.” And he requested funds to improve the grounds of the Armory, which included purchasing additional land, a redesign of the grounds, planting of numerous trees, hedges, and flowers, installing gas lamps, and the construction of fence and numerous buildings.

The construction of the Commanding Officer’s Quarters faced setbacks in the procurement of funds, approval for the building, and then in the construction process. Major Ripley initially requested funds to repair the current quarters in 1841, but after having the building inspected by a few individuals he followed the advice of one and requested that it be demolished and a new quarters built in 1842—The house was built in the Greek Revival style using brownstone from a quarry in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts for its foundation. With bold but simple details, pillars supporting the porch coverings and on either side of the main door, the Quarters took command of the ground. A circular drive was placed in front and walkways circled the Quarters. The Commanding Officer’s Quarters has numerous marble fireplaces, elaborate carved borders, pocket doors, built in bookcases and shelves, and parquet flooring. Water was piped to the building in 1845 and gas was introduced in 1851.

Springfield Armory National Historic Site

In 1869 the construction of the duplex began with the masonry structure completed in 1870. The Junior Officer’s Quarters was built in the Second Empire Style with many architectural elements that reflected the Victorian Period influence. The Quarters had a mansard roof, dormer windows, arched window heads, and bracket cornices, creating an elaborate, freeform house. This departure, from the classical architecture used in many of the other Hill Shop buildings, gave the Junior Officer’s Quarters and the southern corner of the Green a distinctive look and feel.

The Junior Officer’s Quarters were listed in the Massachusetts Most Endangered Historic Resources in 2017 and the building underwent major restoration including rebuilding portions of the foundation and historic chimneys, as well as repointing the brickwork.

In 1960, it was designated as a contributing building to the Springfield Armory National Historic Landmark and is registered in the National Historic Register of Historic Landmarks. With the close of the Armory in 1968, the building ownership was transferred to the State of Massachusetts to Springfield Technical Community College. Today while the building is not occupied, it still brings remembrance to the families of the Armory.

Springfield Armory National Historic Site

The gallery has several pictures of these two buildings, including a couple historic photos. I hope you enjoy the photos. I also hope you will visit some of the other Thursday Doors blog posts. If you don’t have time today, please return on Sunday for the Thursday Doors Sunday Recap.

Ack! I almost forgot. OK, I did forget. I was supposed to include a link to Linda G. Hill’s JusJoJan challenge. I especially wanted to post today because John Holton, from The Sound of One Hand Typing gave us today’s prompt – Complaint. I guess it’s John’s right to complain about my forgetful nature.

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    • I’m glad you liked these houses. Both were initially rejected as being too expensive for a military budget, but both were approved (for even more money) a year or two later. A Board of Inquiry looked into the expense, but cleared the Commander of any wrongdoing.

      I enjoyed learning about the history and speculating about the future of the area you’ve taken us today.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hi Dan – I need to be back to read both posts on these doors and the Springfield Armory site … amazing to see – thanks for the photos … cheers for now – Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  2. These buildings had me at their porches! The brickwork and ironwork is outstanding. The “mansion” might have been a little over the top, but at least the occupants could feel less that they were in an armory. Interesting history Dan. Kudos to those who have kept these buildings viable and continue to maintain them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you like these, Ginger. There was a lot of controversy (even a military board of inquiry) but the Commander was cleared of charges of misuse of funds. His extravagance gave us two wonderful buildings to look at and imagine ourselves in various settings. Most of mine involve sitting on one of those porches.


  3. I’ll take the Junior Officer’s Quarters, thank you, with that rounded porch corner; you will find me there with peach cobbler and coffee for breakfast. What an interesting history. I hope the renovations go well; I can barely imagine how complicated they would be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peach cobbler and coffee for breakfast? I hope you have enough for Ginger and I to join you. The renovations must be difficult, given the age of the building and the work (likely including foundation work) that has to be completed. But it looks like they’re moving right along. I hope they open these houses as part of the tour at some point. The Commander’s house is part of the Armory site. The Junior Officer’s Quarters are part of the STCC.

      Liked by 1 person

      • What a delightful prospect — you and Ginger and I and peach cobbler! I think we must include Judy, however, and I bet a few others would pull up a chair — and a bowl and a mug. That porch is one of the best, and you’ve shown us some winners! I’m guessing that those who love doors also love porches. And peach cobbler thereon.

        Liked by 1 person

    • These were abandoned by the military in 1968, but given to the State and to the National Parks Service. I am very happy to see that both entities have taken good care of the buildings.

      You post was fun! Be sure to thank your husband for us.


  4. Might as well send out a big budget request, anticipating cuts. Kudos to Major Ripley for trying. Truth be told, I’d rather live in the Junior Officers Quarters. I do like all the double and triple columns on the front porch. Is there a particular name for them?

    Liked by 1 person

    • If you can’t get a big request approved, wait a year and ask for even more money :-) Nothing like government spending.

      I don’t know if there’s a word for those columns, but if you look at Second Empire Style buildings, that detail shows up in the images.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. When referred to as quarters, did that mean one officer lived in that building with his family at one point in history? Was one officer given that much room? If so, it’s outlandish compared to today’s norms.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Commander’s home was for him and his family, and it also houses numerous servants. Many people in the area and in the military thought the house’s design was excessive. There was a formal inquiry, but Major Ripley was found innocent of any charges. The Junior Officer’s quarters is a duplex, but even still, half that house is huge. I would guess that quests visiting the armory were allowed to stay with the commander – still, it’s a massive house.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’d love to tour the interior of both houses, Gwen. At this time, that’s not possible, although you can rent the Commander’s House for special occasions (probably outside of my budget). I’m glad you enjoy the history,


    • You have a sharp eye, Marian, you did indeed spot a ghost window. I think there’s another on the porch. I was thinking maybe they had installed an elevator, but there is a window on the third floor. Mystery…

      The Junior Officer’s Quarters is a duplex. Want to split it? Do you prefer left or right?

      Your doors are great. I’m glad you took a lot of doors in Corning. I may actually have a reason to visit there at some point during the next few years.


  6. That iron work seems a bit fancy for Officer’s Quarters! I remember when we toured Charleston SC the guide said all the city’s fancy iron railings had been melted down for bullets during the war. They have of course been rebuilt!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, that home is still huge, even by modern standards, but maybe not for someone who was essentially the CEO of a gigantic military contractor. I’m just glad these two are being restored and maintained.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Natalie. These buildings are interesting as they reflect the architecture of the time, which, currently, might not be a consideration when building a military facility. I am glad to see these buildings still being used and the two residences being restored and preserved.


  7. What an interesting history, Dan, and it’s very cool to see those pre-Civil War buildings still standing today. The Junior Officer’s Quarters is my favorite. I love that ornate style, and it’s great to read that it’s undergoing renovations!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Dan, great history lessons here. I love the Junior Officer Quarters as well. That’s the kind of building I’m always torn about when it comes to renovating versus repurposing. Sometimes, I will hope they’ll be preserved and be available for touring…but I also enjoy it when structures like this become active meeting areas and workspaces. I know if I ever desire a role that takes me “back” to the office, that office would be much more appealing if it had character like that Quarters building has.


    • Thanks Bruce. The Commander’s house is available for meetings and events. The Junior Officer’s Quarters will be part of the community college. I hope they use it for similar purposes. It does appear that they’re preserving the character of both buildings.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Great to see great buildings repurposed in part for important uses as in this case as a Community College.

    I like your photos as I am sure I have mentioned, you capture light with such vividness, it is refreshing to see your images.
    Love the Commanding Officer’s Quarters door.
    Thank you Dan!

    Liked by 1 person

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