During the 1980s and the 90s, the Marcy Armory was the venue for many of Satmar’s major events. From 1987 through 1997, every 21 Kislev event was held there. In addition, the 10th (1988) and the 20th (1998) anniversaries of Keren Hatzolah were celebrated there. The last Satmar event at the Marcy Armory was the marriage of the granddaughter of the Beirach Moshe, daughter of Rabbi Zalman Leib, on Sunday, December 8, 2002.
The Marcy Avenue Armory is also known as the 47th Regiment Armory. Located at 355 Marcy Avenue, it occupies the entire block bounded by Harrison and Marcy Avenues and Heyward and Lynch Streets. The site was formerly called Union Grounds and served as a professional baseball field. It is also the site where many chassidishe weddings and formal affairs were held regularly.
The Marcy Avenue Armory was designed by William Mundell. The Armory resembles late medieval/early Renaissance military architecture in its symmetry and almost classical design and decoration. The original use for the armory was for the National Guard. Its present use, almost 120 years later, remains the same.
The facility consists of a three-story administration building with an attached two-story drill shed, both of which were designed by Mundell and completed in 1883 and 1899 respectively. The 1883 armory, similar to the 7th Regiment Armory in Manhattan, features a rectangular, castellated style with crenellated parapets, a corbelled brick cornice, and square (canted) battlemented corner towers. It is built of load-bearing brick walls (with limestone trim) resting on a raised, rusticated stone foundation, all of which enable fighting enemies that would be attacking the armory.
Symmetrical in form and fenestration (which means the design and positioning of windows and other exterior openings of a building), the 1883 administration building is distinguished by a four-story entrance tower and two, four-story corner towers.
The 1899 drill shed is fortress-like in character with round entrance and corner towers with machicolated cornices, from which there is an ability to drop heavy items on enemies underneath, and crenellated parapets, wide brick buttresses, battered brick walls with very few windows, and massive rusticated sally ports.
The focal point of the second story of the administration building is the Colonel’s Suite, which features elaborate stained-glass doors, sidelights and transom lights, paneled mahogany wainscoting, pressed tin ceilings and paired Ionic columns framing a large display case.
The Armory has several underground levels and was built for use in battle situations. Underground, the Armory is attached to the Brooklyn Navy Yard by a 1.3-mile tunnel. Sips docked at the Navy Yard and unloaded their cargo directly onto the tunnel. Large cargo included tanks, which were driven through the large tunnel to the armory. Through the years the tunnel has weakened because of disuse. However, an underground level immediately above the tunnel is in excellent, usable condition and contains many military and historical artifacts, some more than one hundred years old. The tunnel, with minimal renovation, can be brought back into use if necessary.
After World War II, many armories were demolished or sold. Currently, only ten remain as active headquarters for various units of the National Guard in New York City. The last armory constructed in the city was a replacement of the 42nd Division’s headquarters on 14th Street in Manhattan, built in 1971. The Marcy Avenue Armory was determined to be eligible for addition to the Historical Register in June 1991, but formal application has not been made.Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum
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