Conway Armory Complex

Motor Vehicle Storage Building

Architect of MVSB: Heyward S. Singley

Contractor: General Construction Company (Columbia)

Date Completed: December 8, 1953

Cost: $29,6661

Armory Building:

The construction of the Conway armory is something of a mystery. The construction of the Conway one-unit armory was approved as a contingency project at a cost of $99,000 in June 1958, and was completed in late 1959 or early 19602 . No other primary source documentation regarding the construction of the armory has been located.

SCARNG first designated its Conway Guard unit on February 21, 1947, as the 248th Coast Artillery Battery, 263rd Coast Artillery Battalion. Following a reassignment as Company C, 263rd Heavy Tank Battalion, 51st Infantry Division, in February 1949, the Conway unit moved into its MVSB facility in December 1953.3 Nearly simultaneous to these fortuitous developments, SCARNG again reassigned the Conway unit as Company C, 263rd Tank Battalion, in December 1952. Seven years later, as part of the Pentomic Concept realignment, the Conway unit became Company C, 1st Medium Tank Battalion (Patton), 263rd Armor. This change immediately preceded the construction of a new armory building at the Conway site, probably in early 1960.4 SCARNG reorganized the unit again in 1964, renaming it this time as Company C, 1st Battalion, 263rd Armor, the name it retained as of the 2010 site visit. The unit is classified as a rapid deployment unit.5

Like many of the Guard units in South Carolina, the Conway troops have been called on to assist with a host of local emergencies, including the 1950 crash of a military transport plane in Myrtle Beach, Hurricanes Hazel (1954), Connie and Diane (1955), Helen (1959), David (1979), and Diane (1984), and the outbreak of forest fires in Horry County in 1985. The Conway unit also assisted in keeping the peace in 1969 during the Charleston Medical University hospital strike.6 Conway was not always on the right side of history, however, when it came to the use of its Guard troops. In 1957, for example, the Horry County Board of Commissioners withdrew financial support of its Guard units to protest the use of Guard troops to enforce school segregation in Little Rock, Arkansas. At the same time, they passed a resolution barring the use of county facilities, including the armory, “until such time as the governing body of Horry County is assured by federal authorities that the National Guard of Horry County or of South Carolina…will not be used to carry out any proclamation issued by any federal authority for the use of troops within the borders of this county or state.”7

In past years, locals have rented the one-unit armory building at Conway for use as a couples club and to host wedding receptions, various parties, and a recurring shrimper’s fish fry.8 Current uses of the facility by outside vendors have not been determined, as the local personnel on hand during the site visit was a recent transfer to the location and was not familiar with its outside use.

As of 2010, the Conway armory campus consisted of three buildings located on approximately four acres of land just under a mile to the northwest of Conway’s town center, including a large metal trailer, the 1953 MVSB, and the circa 1960 one-unit armory building.

Photo Gallery

  1. W. J. Truss to Adjutant General, State of South Carolina, and attached Completion Report, December 15, 1953, Folder 633, General, Box 1721, Army-NGB Decimal File, 1954, RG 319, NARA II.

  2. “Committee Votes Armory Projects,” Greensboro Record, June 4, 1958; D. W. McGowan to Robert T. Ashmore, August 14, 1958, Folder 633, South Carolina, Box 3571, Army-NGB Decimal File, 1958, RG 168, NARA II. The latter document indicates a cost of $97,000. See also George N. Kibler to Adjutant General, South Carolina, July 9, 1958, Folder 633, South Carolina, Box 3571, Army-NGB Decimal File, 1958, RG 168, NARA II. The armory was completed sometime between July 1, 1959, and June 30, 1960, as indicated in the Adjutant General’s Report for that year. See Frank D. Pinckney, “Adjutant General’s Report,” July 1, 1960, in Report of the Adjutant General of the State of South Carolina (Columbia, SC (?): State Budget and Control Board, 1960), 14.

  3. Rhodes, 175, and Singley to Russell, 1954. Kitchens, et al (30), incorrectly reports that the MVSB at Conway was built in 1950, but this conflicts with Singley’s own account of his design of this facility and the surviving documentation from the National Guard regarding its construction.

  4. Kitchens, et al (30), again incorrectly cites the date of construction for the one-unit armory as 1970, a date which is utterly inexplicable (given the numerous newspaper accounts from the late 1960s of various events taking place at the armory) and may in fact be a typographical error, given the similarity in design between Conway’s one-unit armory and many of the others from the 1956-1960 era.

  5. Rhodes, 175.

  6. Rhodes, 176.

  7. “S. C. County Withdrawing Guard Funds,” Augusta Chronicle, October 3, 1957. Nothing more appears to have come of the measure, as it did not surface in news reports thereafter. Given that federal and state funds made up the bulk of armory and Guard operations, the move may have been more symbolic than anything else.

  8. Kitchens, et al, 30.