Junior Officer's Quarters

A multistory red brick building with an angled roof and a covered porch. There are multiple windows.
Junior Officer's Quarters (Spring 2021)

Photo Credit: NPS/Dani Beekman

 

Situated on the southern corner of the Green, atop a hill overlooking the city of Springfield, sits the Junior Officer’s Quarters (Buildings 5 and 6).

The site of the Junior Officer’s Quarters sat empty until the U.S. Fire Engine House was constructed in 1851.With the proposal of a new fire house at a different location in the Hill Shops in 1866 (on the North side of the Green), the building was likely used as a guard shack until the construction of the Quarters.

After the Civil War, the Armory underwent changes as Bvt. Col. J.G. Benton looked to make improvements including a stable and carriage storage, repairs and improvements to the Pay Masters House and Clerks Quarters, the addition of a large green house, various landscaping changes (including a reflecting pool and fountain by the Commanding Officer’s Quarters and cannons lining the green), and the construction of the Junior Officer’s Quarters.

 
A black and white portrait of a man in civilian clothing. He has a beard.
Bvt. Col. J.G. Benton

Photo Credit: Springfield Armory NHS Archives

Col. Benton submitted a request for funds for the Junior Officer’s Quarters in 1867, which was not approved, but two years later, in March of 1869, he submitted new plans and estimates which were approved. “The plan now submitted is for two families and may be needed should another officer be sent here for duty.” Col. Benton wrote to Col T.J. Treadwell in 1869 referencing the change from a single-family home to a duplex.

The new plan also included a new location for the Quarters on the site of the Fire Engine House as it was deemed to be “much pleasanter and more convenient” than the original location in line with the Clerk’s Quarters. The estimated cost for the buildings was around $15,000 which was around the same cost of the original estimate for a single-family house. 

In 1869 the construction of the duplex began with the masonry structure completed in 1870. The Junior Officer’s Quarters was built in the Second Empire Style with many architectural elements that reflected the Victorian Period influence. The Quarters had a mansard roof, dormer windows, arched window heads, and bracket cornices, creating an elaborate, freeform house. This departure, from the classical architecture used in many of the other Hill Shop buildings, gave the Junior Officer’s Quarters and the southern corner of the Green a distinctive look and feel. 

 
A black and white photo of a multistory building with a porch and balcony. it has multiple windows and a lamp is in the foreground to the left.
Junior Officer's Quarters around 1871

Photo Credit: Springfield Armory NHS Archives

Each duplex had two entrances, one on the main porch and then a basement entrance. An upper level balcony extended from the second floor over the porch. The front parlors had floor to ceiling windows, with side windows that opened out onto small balconies, which no longer exist today. There were multiple bedrooms and fireplaces, and a kitchen located in the basement. Between 1894-1897 a one-story ell was constructed and the kitchens, for both quarters, moved to the first floor.

The duplex was built with utilities that were typical for the time. These included gas lighting, plumbing, copper boilers to heat water, and hot-air furnaces. With multiple stories, modern utilities and elaborate interior design elements, the building provided much comfort to the officers and their families. Even with all the modernization occurring on the Armory grounds, individuals were still traveling by horse; a mounting block that allowed residents and visitors to easily jump onto their horse or step into their carriage can still be found outside of the quarters. 

As new families moved in and there was new leadership at the Armory, the Junior Officer’s Quarters underwent many renovations that included enlarging the parlors, adding windows, a two-story addition to Quarters 5, and a redesign of the porch. By the time the Armory closed the two sides that were once nearly identical were now completely different, reflecting the needs and desires of the occupants over the years.
 
A multistory red brick house with a covered porch and an addition in the rear.
Once built to be identical, the building was modified to meet the needs and desires of the occupants.

Photo Credit: NPS/Dani Beekman

The Junior Officer’s Quarters were listed in the Massachusetts Most Endangered Historic Resources in 2017 and the building underwent major restoration including rebuilding portions of the foundation and historic chimneys, as well as repointing the brickwork. 

In 1960, it was designated as a contributing building to the Springfield Armory National Historic Landmark and is registered in the National Historic Register of Historic Landmarks. With the close of the Armory in 1968, the building ownership was transferred to the State of Massachusetts to Springfield Technical Community College. Today while the building is not occupied, it still brings remembrance to the families of the Armory.

Last updated: May 24, 2021

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Springfield Armory National Historic Site
One Armory Square
Suite 2

Springfield , MA 01105

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413 734-8551

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