Minneapolis Armory

Read about the history and designation of the Minneapolis Armory historic landmark


The Minneapolis Armory is an outstanding example of the PWA Moderne style.

  • Location: 500 6th Street South
  • Neighborhood: Elliot Park

Historic photo (1936)

Photograph of the Minneapolis Armory building in 1936





Current photo (2015)

Photograph of the Minneapolis Armory building in 2015




  • Architectural Style: PWA Moderne
  • Architect: Bettenberg
  • Engineer: Walter H. Wheeler


  • Historic use: Institutional
  • Current use: Commercial


  • Construction date: 1935-1936
  • Contractor: C.H. Peterson and Company, Inc.; Paul Steinberg Construction Company


  • Area(s) of significance: Significant Events; Architecture; City Identity; Master Engineer 
  • Period of Significance: 1935-1936
  • Date of local designation: 2017
  • Date of National Register designation: 1985
  • Designation: Exterior and interior (selective locations)

Historic profile

The Minneapolis Armory is an outstanding example of the PWA Moderne style. It also reflects the work of New Deal projects to boost the economy in the 1930s. This large brick building was built in 1935-36. It has a rounded roof and recessed windows. The entrances have tall, rounded corners and carved stone accents. This building housed 27 units of the Minnesota National Guard and Naval Militia.

The PWA Moderne architectural style evolved from previous styles. It focused on efficiency, economy, and formal proportions. It was often used for federal government buildings. PWA refers to the Public Works Administration. It was created in 1933 to increase construction jobs during the Great Depression. The PWA also helped fund public construction projects, including the Minneapolis Armory.

P.C. Bettenburg was an architect and engineer who served in World War II. He designed more than 20 armories in Minnesota, including this one. He also worked on a master plan for Camp Ripley Military Reservation. 

Master engineer Walter H. Wheeler also worked on this building. He invented the Wheeler Shear Head, which was a special type of flat-slab ceiling design. It simplified construction, eliminated wasted space, and reduced the cost of fireproof buildings. The Minneapolis Armory’s drill house is an early local application of this invention.

The Minneapolis Armory has two Federal Art Project murals in the trophy room from 1937. Both are examples of fresco painting. Lucia Wiley’s mural shows the history of the National Guard. Elsa Jemne’s mural depicts a rural scene of early Minnesota.


Photo credit

  • 1936 photo: Courtesy of Star Tribune
  • 2015 photo: Minneapolis Department of Community Planning and Economic Development

Work cited

“Minneapolis Armory Designation Study,” 2017

John Douglas Mecum and Muriel Nord, “National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form: Minneapolis Armory,” 1985

Contact us

Community Planning & Economic Development

Historic Preservation




Public Service Center
505 Fourth Ave. S., Room 320
Minneapolis, MN 55415