Self Guided Tours

A book cover of two women in skirts, stockings with the black line and black heels.

The Wartime Sisters

Self Guided Walking Tour of Springfield Armory

The Wartime Sisters, a novel written by Lynda Cohen Loigman, follows two sisters, Ruth and Millie, during World War II at Springfield Armory. Through this walking tour, you will visit sites mentioned in the book and make connections from the novel to history.

Know before you Go
  • The tour takes place outside and the buildings indicated on the map are not open to the public.
  • Look at the model of the Armory during World War II, located inside the museum, to get an idea of how it would have looked to the characters in the novel. Things have changed throughout the years, what differences can you spot on your walk?
  • Keep an eye our for interpretive sings as you walk around the camps to lean more about Springfield Armory's History.
 

Walking Tour Stops

Use the map (below) to guide your walk around the grounds. Sites indicated by yellow circles are the Tour Stops and those indicated by blue circle are Honorable Mentions. Start at the Main Arsenal, identified by a star.

Tour Stops

1. Junior Officer Housing (Built 1870) : “We’re the door on the left…” Half of this mansard-style building was home to Ruth and Arthur’s family. Millie and Michael initially move into a bedroom on the second floor when they get to Springfield. Millie is stunned by the green spaces of Armory Square, as well as by how much Ruth seems to have. Click here to learn more!

2. Administration Building (Built 1817-1862): A hub of activity, the Administration Building is where Ruth went to work in the payroll office. Millie met Lillian while exiting the building on her first day at the armory, on her way to get a job. It is also where Millie was questioned after someone reported that she may be connected with the fire in the Field Service building.

3. Federal Square, Building 103 (Built 1892) and Building 111 (Built 1942): Along with the water shops, Federal Square was where production happened. Millie assembled triggers within building 103, which can be seen across Federal Street. One of the dining halls, where Arietta provides entertainment for the workers, was in Building 111, also in Federal Square. Although working for the same cause the differences between Federal Square and Armory Square were great.

4. Commanding Officer's Quarters (Built 1845-1847): Lillian Walsh makes this house her home, while also making it a community space by hosting gatherings and concerts. Eventually Millie and Michael move into the house when tensions with Ruth hit a high. When Lenny returns on the night of the concert Millie leads him here. Click here to learn more!

5. Behind the Main Arsenal: On this hill is where the famous Benny Goodman concert took place. It was part of The Victory Parade of Spotlight Bands radio show, a cross-country tour that took place at military installations, hospitals, and war plants. It was an important, morale-boosting event for the Armory, and an important event in the book. Note the concrete pad, which used to be a tennis court. In the book Lillian floods and freezes the court to get to know the residents of Armory Square.

Honorable Mentions

1. High School of Commerce: Located just across State Street this high school still stands and is where Millie drops off Michael before heading off to get a job.

2. The Fence (Built 1852-1861): “If it weren’t for the fence, she would have thought she was in the wrong place” Although Ruth is the one who lived here, our first look at the Armory comes from Millie when she first arrives. Built by Superintendent James W. Ripley, the fence is made out of repurposed obsolete cannons and cannonballs.

3. Building 20/Field Service Building (Built 1914): Tensions from the war ran high and sabotage was on many peoples' minds. The field service building was almost complete when it caught fire and was destroyed. Although Millie was suspected by Grace Peabody, it was widely accepted in the novel and in real life that the fire in the nearly completed Field Service building was an accident.

 
A map of Springfield Armory with yellow and blue circles highlight various sites.
A map of your stops on the tour.

Last updated: August 19, 2021

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Springfield Armory National Historic Site
One Armory Square
Suite 2

Springfield , MA 01105

Phone:

413 734-8551

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