Stop 14: The 1955 National Guard Armory of Dade City
Imagine the dedication of the National Guard Armory building in February of 1955. A huge crowd attended and festivities included a city parade, tours, speakers, and a military ball. Radio Station WDCF covered every activity of the day. Master of Ceremonies was Captain Carl P. Deal, the commander of Company M of the National Guard. Many dignitaries were on hand including Brigadier General McMillen, Brigadier General White, and virtually every local leader of Pasco County and Dade City as well as a huge crowd of citizens.
The momentous event for Dade City had included a series of events including a signed joint agreement with the Armory Board of the State of Florida and the Pasco County Armory Committee and set out with solicitations for contributions from the county, the school board, and the Armory committee. They also obtained federal funds for the erection of the building. Senator George Dayton of Dade City introduced the bills, and the Dade City Commission contributed $5000 to the effort in 1953. For many years prior to 1955, Dade City had a National Guard Unit. As early as 1920, the idea of a dedicated space was floated to the city commission. When the unit was first assigned to Dade City, like so many other organizations, it was lodged in the George B. Massey Building (the former Sunnybrook Tobacco site) beside the Bank of Pasco County which you learned of on Stops 3 and 4.
Over the years, the Armory hosted soldiers arriving and departing to military service. In its early years, area basketball teams booked games in the spacious facility, and later all types of sports activities, recitals, concerts, lively wrestling matches, celebrations, and solemn occasions have occurred in Dade City’s cherished Armory.
A rededication occurred in 2013, after several renovations. An array of equipment including jeeps and military equipment are routinely parked in the rear of the armory. Sergeant Ryan Blume recently explained that the equipment typically goes with the battery when they are doing training and also on deployment.
In 2021, the Alpha Battery based at the Dade City National Guard Armory was the first artillery battery to fire live rounds in Europe since World War II when they did cross training with Croatian and Sylvania troops at Sloan, Croatia.
Today, the Dade City Armory provides the facility on Tuesdays and Thursdays to the community for programs. Yoga classes are offered and each afternoon, the floor is open for area students who want to shoot hoops or utilize the space for sports practices.
Note that the Armory is occupied by a military unit and is not open to the public on a daily basis. The exterior is a classic marker in Dade City and you will have viewed the armory from Stop 6 area.