Roseburg Armory

Photo credit: Alyssa McConnel

Designed by Oregon architect, William C. Knighton, the Roseburg Armory was constructed in 1913-14 to serve as headquarters for the Roseburg National Guard Company. It is one of two Oregon armories designed by then State Architect William C. Knighton. The Roseburg building exhibits fine detailing in the Viennese secessionist and Arts and Crafts styles on a basically Tudor Revival style building. A massive, segmental-arched entry portal is flanked by castellated, octagonal towers and smaller octagonal corner towers. The smooth concrete belt courses, label moldings, coving, and window embellishments contrast with the roughcast stucco finish. Decorative themes used include a version of the Knighton signature ornament, a stylized bell-shaped embellishment. A rear arch-roof drill hall, also in the Tudor style, exhibits buttresses, segmental-arched windows with drip moldings, and casement windows; the drill hall has a bow-string truss roof. Roughcast stucco covers the reinforced concrete two-story structure including the daylight basement. The interior of the building features an octagonal lobby, reception rooms and five fireplaces.

William C. Knighton (1866-1938) was born in Indianapolis, Indiana and studied architecture in Birmingham, Alabama and Chicago before moving to Salem, Oregon in 1893. He was appointed to the position of State Architect in 1913 by Governor Oswald West, served in that capacity until 1917, during which time he oversaw the construction and remodeling of over 90 buildings. Previous to this, Knighton had designed the Old Soldier’s Home (now demolished) in Roseburg. Knighton broke with the early 20th century Oregon tradition of using Classical references and instead showed a bold expression of contemporary influences in his buildings. Knighton was one of Oregon’s first architects to use decorative terra cotta in the highly embellished Viennese Secessionist style of geometric, sculptured ornamentation that is a part of the decorative scheme of the Roseburg Armory. One of his most well-known buildings is the Governor Hotel in Portland which also utilizes forms of geometric ornamentation similar to those found in the Roseburg Armory.

The drive for a National Guard Armory in Roseburg was spearheaded by Dr. George Houck, highly-regarded Roseburg physician. Dr. Houck (1865-1957) graduated from the University of Oregon Medical School as a member of the third graduating class in 1890. After practicing medicine for a year at the Warm Springs Indian Reservation and later in Mitchell, Oregon, he moved to Roseburg in 1898. He served as a medical officer in World War I in France and was a member of the National Guard for 20 years. Dr. Houck served as city and county health officer, on the city council and as Mayor of Roseburg for four years, 1925-1929. He was a past president of the Southern Oregon Medical Society; he served on the State Board of Health from 1921-1925 and 1929-33 and was president of the Board in 1924. In 1952 the Oregon State Medical Society honored him as the oldest practicing physician in the state.

The Roseburg Armory was renamed the Flegel Center in the 1980s in honor of former Mayor and State Legislator Albert G. Flegel (1906 -1986). Mr. Flegel moved to Roseburg in 1940, leaving soon after to serve in World War II. Upon his return in 1945, he took over a moving a storage company, renaming it Flegel Transfer and Storage. In 1946 he was elected mayor of Roseburg, serving in that office until 1953. In 1957 Mr. Flegel was elected to the Oregon Legislature, representing the Democratic party, and served as Senate Majority leader from 1967-69. He returned to Roseburg public office in 1969 filling out the unexpired term of a County Commissioner; he was later elected to that office and served until 1975. The Roseburg Armory was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.