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Morris Guards Armory Building

morrisguardsbldg

The Morris Guards Armory Building is located on New York Avenue between Atlantic and Pacific Avenues

Text of plaque affixed to building:
Morris Guards of Atlantic City, N.J.

This building is dedicated to the members of the Morris Guards who served the City, State and Nation for one hundred years.

Colonel Daniel E. Morris - Founder

Member: The Centennial Legion of Historic Military Commands

1887 - 1987

Additional information:
The Morris Guards was an independent military club based in Atlantic City. It boasted the designation of being the oldest military command in the State of New Jersey, and the third oldest in the nation. Although the plaque outside of their Armory building states that Daniel Morris was the founder of the Guards, this is somewhat erroneous. Morris, Atlantic City's top civil engineer at the time, deeded a lot on south New York Avenue to the Morris Guards after learning that they had named themselves in his honor. He designed the original A-frame building at the site which served as their headquarters, as well as the more ornate Armory Building that replaced it in 1901. The actual founder of the Morris Guards was Edwin Smith, who was a member of Philadelphia's State Fencibles Infantry and wanted to see a similar organization come to Atlantic City. The Guards were organized March 2, 1887, with 72 members in attendance at the first meeting. The main purpose of the Morris Guards was to train members so they would be ready in times of war, with weekly drills and exercises held in the Armory Building. The organization also served to provide social and physical activities for residents during the winter months in Atlantic City, when in the early days there wasn't much to do. The Morris Guards participated in several local parades to commemorate city memorials and milestones, and for many years served as official escorts to Miss America contestants. They also boasted many social clubs within their organization, such as a quartet and a basketball team. When the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, the 106 members of the Morris Guards volunteered as a unit, and were federalized as Company F, Fourth Regiment of the National Guard of New Jersey. They added 14 National Guardsmen to the Company to fill out their ranks. In future wars, new rules prevented entire groups from volunteering together, but members of the Morris Guards individually served in both World Wars, as well as the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The Guards also ran a civilian military training program during World War II, which trained about 600 men prior to their enlistment in the military. In later years, however, new social options meant a decline in membership for the Morris Guards, and the age of the older members made the upkeep of the Armory Building difficult. It was sold in 1983, but the plaque was placed on it in 1987, in celebration of the Morris Guards' 100th Anniversary, to ensure that their history would not be forgotten.

For more information, see articles from:
Atlantic City Press, July 12, 1987, February 25, 1993 and April 21, 1998
Real Estate Connection, February 2, 2007