The Jefferson Street Armory, completed in 1907, was the third armory to be built on the site. Constructed of brick and limestone, it originally contained a drill hall, rifle and pistol ranges, a riding shed and a stable for horses. The structure is actually three buildings in one. The oldest building, on the west side, was once used to quarter the cavalry. The building on the east side housed the infantry. The two buildings were connected with the construction of an arched roof auditorium. As a result of the original deed that conveyed the land to the State, the grounds that surround the Armory are public property and known as Jefferson Park. The armory is now home to the Museum of Science and Technology (MOST) and boasts an IMAX Theater among its attractions.
The Jefferson Street Armory stands on the site of a mill pond that covered several acres and was the source of water power for area mills in the early 19th century. In 1858, the mill pond was filled and made into Jefferson Park. That same year, NYS built the first armory in the public park; it burned in 1873.
The first Armory in a photo taken in 1867
The second armory operated from 1876-1906.
The second Armory in a photo taken in the 1890s
The second Armory with the military outside on the lawn.
The third armory housed in the existing building, operated from 1907-1990. Men leaving to fight in the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and World War 1 rendezvoused at the Jefferson Street Armory before departing for war, uncertain if they would again see their family and friends.
The third Armory in a photo taken in 1979
One of the armory’s most famous visitors was former General and President Ulysses S. Grant who attended a military ball there in 1880. Until converting to the Museum of Science and Technology in the 1990s, developers were interested in changing the armory into an indoor marketplace and a hotel. Today, the Jefferson Street Armory is still a major focal point for the restaurants and shops located in popular Armory Square.