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Galesburg Community Weighs in on Vacant Armory's Future

Jun 2, 2016

Galesburg’s two-story Armory building on North Broad Street has sat vacant since 2006.  The city held a public open house at the Armory this week to hear community feedback about proposals for ways to use the building going forward. 

Credit TJ Carson

More than 100 people attended the open house. They were able to tour the facility, view artistic renderings of proposed ways to use the building going forward and give feedback.

The city has proposed numerous programs to be offered in the Armory.  They include:

  • Open Gym Space
  • Computer Lab
  • Art Exhibit Space
  • Senior Activities
  • Event Space
  • Teen Room

It was Martha Brown's first time seeing the Armory building. She's from Portland, Oregon and a junior at Knox College. She said the visit inspired her to envisioning the building as the future home of a recreation center.

Brown said if there was free wifi then it could serve as a hangout for the Knox College community.

“It’s awesome exposed brick. A lot of us are from urban areas and kind of into the more earthy-exposed architecture. And so I think this would be like an awesome environment for us to kind of maybe feel like we’re in more of an urban place in Galesburg," Brown said. 

College aged students play basketball on a portable hoop on the floor of the Armory during the open house
Credit TJ Carson

Brown said she could also see the Armory being a a place for learning. She suggested it could be a place where Knox College students teach yoga or dance classes or offer homework help to high school students.

The city estimates it could take around $3-million to make the necessary repairs to bring the Armory up to code. Galesburg resident Michael Breslin doesn’t think the city can afford that.

“It’s going to have to be the federal or state," Breslin said. Galesburg doesn’t have the money. We don’t have any coming in or moving out."

The open house was the first time Breslin had been to the building since he was a kid and went there for dances and to see the military tanks that would park outside. 

Breslin said he would like to see the Armory turned into a community center, something that’s been missing in Galesburg since the former community center was sold a few years ago.

Residents that didn’t attend the open house, but would still like to contribute, can take a survey on the city’s website. The survey asks what type of facility the Armory should become, the amenities that should be included and how often residents could see themselves using the space.