Konawa National Guard Armory – Konawa OK

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The Works Progress Administration (WPA) built the Konawa National Guard Armory in Konawa OK.

What makes the Konawa National Guard Armory so intriguing is that a pair of swastikas on the front of the building. Most people associate this symbol with the Nazi people of World War 2, but prior to the war the symbol was a Native American emblem and was used by the 45th Infantry Division of Oklahoma as a tribute to the large Native American population. The Company F, 2nd Battalion, 179th, 45th Infantry Division was the first unit to occupy the building after it was built. But of course, after the rise of Nazism the 45th Division changed its insignia to the Thunderbird.

Construction started October 22, 1935 and could not have come at the right time since 20% of men in Seminole county was on the relief rolls. By February 1936 thirty men were regularly employed at the site. Limiting these men to four days work per week guaranteed wage of twenty-three dollars a month. Konawa Lumber Company supplied 80,000 board feet of lumber and miscellaneous materials. Hundreds of thousands of three-inch wood blocks for the drill hall floor were cut, sanded, inlaid, and treated with linseed oil by the unskilled workers, while 317,000 bricks from McAlester, Oklahoma were used in the building. When truckers refused the regular WPA wage scale, Guardsmen stood ready to deliver supplies. Bad weather and shortages in steel materials slowed construction, but the armory was finished in mid-February 1937. Those participating in the formal dedication on February 19 included State WPA Director General W. S. Key, as well as architect Major Bryan W. Nolen. Observers noted that not only did Konawa receive in the new armory a permanent useful addition to the town, but also a number of men hired from the relief rolls as unskilled laborers finished the job as experienced brick masons and mechanics, their employability greatly enhanced. The completed Konawa Armory was estimated to have cost $30,000. Included in the 125′ by 140′ building were administrative offices, storage rooms, an arms vault, classrooms, a locker room, and garages. The drill hall, measuring 83′ by 108′, included a stage with a basement rifle range. The size of the building and striking style made it the most imposing building in the small town. Not only did the building help the military units to prepare for World War 2, it also was used for community activities throughout until the Department of Environment Quality program to clean the National Guard buildings for repurposing. DEQ completed remediation activities on September 17th, 2008 and the building was handed over to the city of Konawa and used for storage.

Source notes

National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form - https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/GetAsset/26651493-80bb-47f6-afe4-9bbbf613c347/
Oklahoma Landmarks Inventory - http://oli_shpo.okstate.edu/query_result.aspx?id=24952&pbc=P
Department of Environmental Quality Transfer Order - https://www.deq.ok.gov/wp-content/uploads/land-division/Konawa-Final-Report-web.pdf

Project originally submitted by Greg Sullaway on January 11, 2021.

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Location Info

625 N. State Street
Konawa, OK

Coordinates: 34.96224, -96.74992

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