EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first in a new series of articles recalling vanished Huntington landmarks. They will run on Mondays.
HUNTINGTON -- In 1912, prominent Huntington attorney George S. Wallace approached local businessman G.N. Biggs with a proposition. A lieutenant colonel in the West Virginia National Guard, Wallace knew the three Guard units in the city needed new quarters. His proposition to Biggs: Build a suitable building and he - Wallace - would see to it the state would rent it as an armory for the Guard.
Biggs readily agreed and began construction of a red brick building on the south side of 5th Avenue between 1st and 2nd streets. Quickly it became clear the building couldn't be built for the $18,000 Biggs had agreed to spend, so Wallace came up with another idea. With both the state's Democrats and Republicans set to hold their 1912 conventions in Huntington, Wallace persuaded the Huntington Chamber of Commerce to raise $5,000 to complete the army in time for the conventions. In 1921, the state bought the armory from Biggs, making it the first-state owned armory in West Virginia.
For 50 years, the Biggs Armory not only was home to the Guard but was often the scene of dances and other social events. But by the 1960s the building was badly showing its age and the Guard had long since outgrown it. When new quarters were built for the Guard at Tri-State Airport, the state put the old armory up for sale. An oil company bought the building and demolished it, then constructed a convenience store-service station on the site.