Oneonta villagers weren’t exactly clamoring or actively lobbying for an armory to be built in the village in the mid-1880s. On the other hand, if the village were to be offered an armory here, Oneontans didn’t turn their noses up at the idea. We had a railroad, we were in a good central location, and New York state government felt Oneonta would be a good place to locate an armory. That’s because we had a good militia in the past, with the formation of the Third Separate Co. here in 1875.
According to Eugene D. Milener’s book, “Oneonta: The Development of a Railroad Town,” prior to 1875, “only the largest cities had a guard unit where it was practicable to maintain a battalion. A policy change then permitted guard units to be established in smaller places where there would be developed separate companies.”
State militia officials knew Oneonta could support an excellent company, and decided this would be a good place to build an armory. Previous units in Oneonta had made the Stanton Opera House a place to drill. That was once located where 125 Main St. is today.
The move to get an armory in Oneonta began in 1883, as The Oneonta Herald reported on March 15 that Assemblyman Hartford D. Nelson introduced a bill for $7,000 to build it.
“The money is to be expended under a commission consisting of the adjutant-general, the inspector general and the chief of ordinance, but no part to be disbursed until the state acquires a perfect title to a suitable site, the purchase money for the same to be contributed by members of the national guard in said county.”
Apparently the bill got nowhere, as Assemblyman Nelson needed to introduce another bill, this time for $10,000, in January 1884, with no more than $2,000 to be expended for a site.