HomeHistoryArmories to National Register of Historic PlacesRock Hill Armory Complex

Rock Hill Armory Complex

Motor Vehicle Storage Building

None.

Armory Building:

Architect: Jackson & Miller
Contractor: Young Construction Company
Cost: $196,675.001
Completition Date: March 4, 1965
Notes:

Brick mullions appear to have been original to this property, representing a design variation from earlier armories. Built on 11.8 acres.2 A substantial addition to the northeast and southwest ends of the building, designed by Design Collaborative (Columbia, SC), was completed in 1989.3

SCARNG’s connections to the Rock Hill area are long and storied, and many Guard recruits from this region trace the lineage of their unit to the Cherokee War (1757-1761) through the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the 2nd Seminole War. The region also contributed volunteers to the state’s Palmetto Regiment, which saw service in the Mexican War, and other ancestors of Rock Hill’s present Guard organization claim a connection to many of the key fights of the American Civil War. The first formal organization founded strictly in Rock Hill, however, was Company I, 1st Battalion Mounted Rifles (the Catawba Rifles), which was organized in May 1877. By 1883, this unit had become part of the 3rd Infantry Regiment of the South Carolina Volunteers. These men saw service as part of the 1st Regiment South Carolina Volunteer Infantry in the Spanish American War. In 1907, when the South Carolina National Guard was again reorganized, the Rock Hill unit was formed as Company H. Later, serving as part of the 118th Infantry Regiment, 30th Division, in World War I, Rock Hill men served admirably in the Somme Offensive, Ypres-Lys, and Flanders. Some of these men were formally organized as Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Infantry, on October 24, 1921, at Rock Hill. This unit was renamed later that year as Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 118th Infantry. Between the World Wars, a WPA-era armory was constructed in downtown Rock Hill. As part of the 3rd Battalion of the 118th Infantry Regiment in World War II, Rock Hill’s volunteer soldiers saw service throughout Europe, including at the Battle of the Bulge.4

Formal federal recognition of the current Guard presence at Rock Hill came in March 1947, when it was reorganized as Company F, 218th Infantry, 51st Infantry Division. SCARNG again reorganized this unit in January 1968 as Company B (Detachment 1), 4th Battalion, 118th Infantry, 218th Infantry Brigade, 30th Infantry Division. This massive reorganization resulted in the transfer of the unit’s components to Chester and Lockhart.5

Meanwhile, the soldiers who had once made up the 263d Coast Artillery Battalion at Florence soon found their path taking them to Rock Hill. In 1949, this unit had been designated as the 263d Heavy Tank Battalion of the 51st Infantry Division and reassigned to Mullins, South Carolina. Another reorganization took place in September 1950, when the unit became the 263rd Tank Battalion. Nine years later, as part of the Pentomic Concept reorganization of SCARNG, this unit consolidated into the 2nd Battalion, 218th Infantry, which had been formally organized in February 1947. This transformation placed this new merged unit at Rock Hill. Under its new name—the 2nd Reconnaissance Squadron of the 263rd Armor, 51st Infantry Division—the unit remained at Rock Hill, sharing space with Company F, 218th Infantry, 51st Infantry Division.((Rhodes, 353-54.)) During this period, the Rock Hill unit occupied an armory space at an unknown location in Rock Hill; this facility was deemed inadequate in 1959 because of insufficient administrative, classroom, and kitchen space, and it was slated for alteration and addition in the armory plan devised that year.6 Local staff members indicate that this older armory building from the 1930s that once occupied the site was torn down to make way for the new armory in 1964.7

In 1964, the Second Reconnaissance Squadron was reorganized again into 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions, at which time SCARNG began construction on a new armory building at Rock Hill, which was completed in March 1965. In 1968 and again in 1974, this unit experienced additional structural changes that resulted in its designation as a portion of the 218th Separate Infantry Brigade (Mechanized). Another reorganization occurred in 1986, when the unit became Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 263rd Armor.8 Beginning in January 1969, the Transportation and Maintenance Section of Company E, 4th Battalion, 118th Infantry also moved its operations to Rock Hill and reorganized as Detachment 1, Support Company, 4th Battalion, 118th Infantry.9 The 1986 reorganization transformed this later unit into Company E, 4th Battalion, 118th Infantry. As of 2005, Kitchens, et al, reported that the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 178th Engineers Battalion, occupied the Rock Hill facility, and at the time of the 2010 site visit, this unit was still listed as the occupant.10

Local interests have rented the 1965 armory at Rock Hill in the past for wedding receptions and similar parties, and this practice seems to continue to the present—a large children’s clothing and accessories sale was taking place on the day of the site visit. Despite an exhaustive search, the general historical file mentioned by Kitchens, et al, could not be located by current personnel, but they were able to find original plans for the present armory dated 1964, as well as plans for a substantial renovation and expansion of the armory completed in 1989.11

The SCARNG facility at Rock Hill presently consists of nine buildings/structures on just under twelve acres of land located near Bryant Field in the Miller Crossing section of the Rock Hill area, including a maintenance tent, a small metal oil house, a Quonset hut, a large equipment storage building, an FMS equipment building, an FMS central wash rack, an FMS shop, a detached kitchen, and the 1965 armory building.

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  1. Inspection Report, September 24, 1964, Folder 1505-11 SC 64, Box 22, National Guard Bureau, General Subject Files, 1964; Folder 1505-11 SC 65, Box 41, National Guard Bureau, Central Subject File, 1964-1974.

  2. Albert M. Withers to Chief, NGB, November 18, 1963, Folder 1050-11, South Carolina, Box 4431, Army-NGB TAFFS, 1963, RG 168, NARA II.

  3. Original plans of this addition are on site.

  4. Rhodes, 353-54.

  5. Rhodes, 343.

  6. “Armory Inventory and Stationing Plan, South Carolina,” 1959, Folder 633, South Carolina, Box 3784, Army-NGB Decimal File, 1959, RG 168, NARA II.

  7. Kitchens, et al, 76, and Sergeant Phillip Reid, personal conversation, October 12, 2010.

  8. Rhodes, 353-54.

  9. Rhodes, 350.

  10. Kitchens, et al, 76.

  11. Kitchens, et al, 76, and Sergeant Phillip Reid, personal conversation, October 12, 2010.