July 21, 1989
St. Joseph Armory planned in 1994
by Janelle Von Pinnon, publisher
By 1995, a new Army Reserve armory is scheduled to be constructed on the eastern edge of St. Joseph, across from the Del-Win Ballroom and behind the Super 8 Motel.
“Five years ago, the Army Reserve identified the need for a new armory,” said Fran Court, the staff supervisor/administrator for the 409th Infantry in St. Cloud.
“We’ve outgrown the present armory (located at 8th Street N. in St. Cloud). The Army Reserve has increased in strength. We have also increased in reserve missions and cut back in active force missions. By the end of this fiscal year, we will have more people in reserve forces than in active forces.”
Representatives from Forces Command in Washington, D.C.; the Fourth Army of Fort Sheridan, Ill.; the Corps of Engineers from St. Louis, Mo.; and from the 88th ARCOM and 205th Bridgade in Fort Snelling, St. Paul, were sent to St. Cloud to assess and evaluate possible areas for armory construction.
“I had been delegated the responsibility to find a site for the new armory,” Court said. “During the past five years, 13 sites were chosen – the St. Joseph site wasn’t even one of them – at first.
“After all 13 had been rejected for one reason or another, the reps wanted to tour the St. Joseph area maintenance shop, which repairs military equipment for all reserve units north of the Twin Cities. That’s how the St. Joseph land was spotted.
“Someone said, ‘Hey, why isn’t this on the list? It’s a perfect site’ and it was unanimous,” Court continued. “It has visibility, good traffic accessibility, good freeway access for transporting equipment and it’s an easy place to come to for drilling reserves.”
Last December, the money was appropriated by Congress and the 8.6-acre plot of land was acquired from the Lahr family.
Construction will include a maintenance facility for AMSA 23 which is presently located east of Gohman Construction on CR 133.
The site was originally scheduled for construction in 1989, but backlogging of reserve construction, due to most buildings in use today having been built in the 1950s and beginning to crumble, has put it off until 1995,” Court said.
The armory will support 150 members in St. Cloud’s two Army Reserve units – the First Battalion of the 409th Infantry and the 377th Medical Detachment Hospital Dispensary.
“The armory should benefit the community in many ways,” Court said. “If present trends continue, by the time the facility is built there will be 30 full-time employees on staff. Right now, there are already 21 employees.
“Drilling reserves only meet once a month so availability of the facility is extensive for community utilization. The facility would charge no rent, only utility costs.
“It will be available for civic activities, and possibly intramural sports activities such as basketball or volleyball,” Court concluded. “Other armories are used regularly for school programs, Red Cross blood donation drives, food fests, teen dances, and auto and boat shows.”
photo by Janelle Von Pinnon
Fran Court, St. Cloud Army Reserve supervisor, points out the 1995 armory site on the eastern edge of St. Joseph.
Author: Janelle Von Pinnon
Von Pinnon has been publishing the St. Joseph Newsleader since 1989, the Sartell-St. Stephen Newsleader since 1995 and the Sauk Rapids-Rice Newsleader since 2015. She graduated from Minnesota State University-Moorhead with degrees in mass communications (with an emphasis on print journalism) and biology. She lives in southeast St. Cloud with her husband and two children.