Former Guard armory in Canonsburg could be sold

February 12, 2013
The former Pennsylvania National Guard Armory in Canonsburg - Linda Metz / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

The Pennsylvania National Guard Armory in Canonsburg may have new life.

The state Department of General Services on Thursday accepted a $206,400 bid for the armory from Metro Pittsburgh Youth For Christ. A sales agreement, however, has yet to be completed.

“Our emphasis is on the youth,” said J.R. Gardner, ministry site director.

According to Gardner, the ministry wants to convert the building into a community center that will provide a variety of programs for area youth.

“Our goal is to kick off in the fall,” he explained.

Youth for Christ/USA was formed in 1944 when evangelists Billy Graham and Torrey Johnson held a Youth for Christ rally in Chicago.

A Public Works Administration project built in 1938, the armory is one of only two buildings in the borough to be on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 2012, the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh, a group dedicated to protecting historic sites, placed the armory, located at 16 W. College St., on its annual list of the 10 best preservation opportunities in the region.

The red-brick building was erected for Hospital Company 108, 103rd Medical Regiment, which became part of the National Guard in the mid-1920s. The lot had been the site of the house of the president of Jefferson College.

In 2010, the legislation was passed that would have allowed Canonsburg to purchase the armory for $268,000 – its fair market value as determined by a June 30, 2009, appraisal.

The borough began looking at purchasing the 10,000-square-foot, two-story building in 2007 when it was announced that the guard company would be moving to a new facility in Greene County.

There was talk of perhaps using the armory basement for the police department while the rest of the building could house council meetings and borough offices. Then, the borough could rent the current municipal building once the Greater Canonsburg Public Library relocates to its new location.

Canonsburg eventually backed out, unable to come up with the funds to purchase the armory.

The armory remained vacant although there had been other proposals for its use, said borough Mayor David Rhome.

“Over the years, I’ve had many, many calls about the building,” Rhome said. “But, nothing ever happened.”

The mayor said the borough hopes the ministry follows through with its plans and believes the facility would be a great addition to the community.

Linda Metz has been with the Observer-Reporter since 2000, covering Washington County courts and politics, as well as the city of Washington. She previously was employed by the Tribune Review. She is a graduate of Point Park College, now a university, in Pittsburgh.

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