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Lost History Of Columbus: The Armory And Gymnasium At OSU

There used to be an epic castle on campus at the Ohio State University.

Designed by renowned local architect Frank L. Packard, the Armory and Gymnasium at the Ohio State University opened in 1898. The building was designed to look like a medieval castle and it was imposing.

The Armory was a multipurpose facility used for military science, men’s and women’s physical education, men’s basketball, and even social events.

Photo via CML

The building was constructed for $115,000. It never had an official name, but it was known as the Gymnasium and Armory, the Naval Armory, The Military Department Building, and many more throughout the years.

The first department to call the building home was the OSU men’s basketball team. During World War I, the building was taken over by the military. The basketball team moved to the Coliseum at the Ohio State Fairgrounds in 1920 and the building became home to the Department of Military Science. Over the years, the “castle” hosted campus dances, commencement ceremonies, and intramural sports.

The Armory being demolished in 1959. Photo via The Knowledge Bank, OSU

The building was a fixture on campus for nearly 60 years, before it was demolished in 1959 after a fire the previous year. The land where the Armory once stood sat empty for years, until becoming home to the Wexner Center for the Arts.

If the historic homes and buildings of Columbus are of interest to you, I highly suggest that you check out A Historical Guidebook to Old Columbus: Finding the Past in the Present in Ohio’s Capital City. This fantastic book takes a look at our city through a historic lens and if you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to put it down.