The now closed Iowa National Guard armory in Centerville snaps a tradition of a guard presence in Centerville that dates back to at least 1881.
The Iowa National Guard announced Jan. 24 that they were permanently closing the Centerville armory and moving Company A (Forward Support Company), 224th Engineer Battalion to Fairfield.
The Centerville armory was the 12th armory to be closed “as part of a state-wide consolidation and facilities upgrade program initiated in 2000 by the Iowa National Guard,” states the email sent by the Iowa National Guard to announce the closure.
Centerville has a long and storied association with the Iowa National Guard. On three separate occasions, stories printed in 1881 mention an armory and Company E.
The following is a look back at Centerville’s armory and the evolution of Company E as seen through the digital archives of the Centerville Iowegian funded by the Appanoose County Historical Society. The newspapers and stories can be found at centerville.advantage-preservation.com.
On Jan. 6, 1881, the Appanoose Times reported Company E held a Military Fair at the Centerville armory. “The attendance was large and comprised of the very best citizens of the city, and all seemed to enjoy themselves to the utmost.” The event raised net receipts of approximately $200. “The universal verdict at the armory Monday evening was, that in the future the ladies of Centerville have only to command and Company E will obey.”
On April 18, 1883, the Centerville Journal reported Col. D. N. Steele had a contract to build an armory building 40x100 feet on land leased from the city west of the city building. The story says the armory for Company E 2nd Regiment of the Iowa National Guard of Centerville will also serve as town hall. The money used to fund the new building was “raised largely by individual contributions.”