In 1895, the city of Richmond constructed the Leigh Street or First Battalion Virginia Volunteers Armory, the nation’s only 19th-century armory built for an African American militia. Several decades of noteworthy performance by Virginia’s black militia combined with tireless lobbying by Richmond Planet editor John Mitchell, Jr., contributed to the city’s decision to fund the armory. After 1899, when Virginia’s governor disbanded black militia units, the armory served until 1981 primarily as a school for black children: Monroe Elementary School, Colored Special School, Graves Junior High School annex, and Armstrong High School annex. During World War II, it served as a reception center for black soldiers.
Original Sponsor: Department of Historic Resources
Geographic Location: Richmond (City)
Physical Description of Location: Proposed Location: 122 West Leigh Street
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