In Honor of Veteran’s Day: A Conversation about the Tonawanda Castle’s Military History

The Captains Corridors on the second floor with the impressive original woodwork.

On the second floor, the “Captain’s Corridors” is easily identified by the intricate woodwork containing the word “captain” in gold lettering. The room is now frequently used as a suite for groomsmen.

This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with a friend of mine who happened to be familiar with the Tonawanda Castle from its previous days as an armory. Attorney Glenn Murray began his career as a lawyer on active duty in the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, N.C. Upon moving to Buffalo in 1984, Mr. Murray joined the National Guard as a Judge Advocate General, or JAG, like the popular TV show. In this role, he gave many legal briefings at armories all around New York State. He assured me that the one we have right here in Tonawanda is one of the finest there is. Like so many others upon their first glimpse of the building’s rich interior, Mr. Murray said he had “fallen in love with this place” back when he first saw it.

The first floor parlour which was used as office space during the armory days.  Try to imagine file cabinets in place of the comfy furnishings!

The sitting room of first floor parlour served as an office for company commanders when the building was in use as an armory. Try to imagine file cabinets in place of the comfy furnishings!

As we walked around the first and second floors, he enlightened me as to some differences in the appearance of the interior. He noted that when the building was in use as an armory, it of course appeared much more functional and utilitarian. However the architecture never failed to make an impression: “Among the trappings of an active National Guard unit, you would see features of the beautiful architecture, such as the stained glass,” Mr. Murray explained. As it is presently, The Tonawanda Castle was furnished by Ridge Home Furnishings with impeccably chosen lush couches, chairs, and linens in rich fabrics that perfectly complement the Castle’s historical elegance. This is the vision of the Castle that I myself am familiar with, and the current décor seems so a propos to the historical beauty that it is difficult for me to imagine the building otherwise. To aid my imagination, Mr. Murray informed me that what is currently the ballroom was originally a drill floor, and what is currently the first floor parlour was previously used as an office for company commanders. He revealed that the parlour, currently used for charming bridal and baby showers, or swanky cocktail parties, was filled with file cabinets and gear.

A view of the grand ballroom during last year's Veteran's Day event.

A view of the grand ballroom during last year’s Veteran’s Day event.

It only makes sense that an armory would have military equipment lying about here and there, but it is uncommon in this day and age for everyday army gear to have such an elegant backdrop as stained glass and chandeliers. This building’s long rich history reaches back to a time when that combination was more customary. To celebrate that history, and to say thank you to our country’s military men and women, we hope that you will join us this Friday, November 8 at the 3rd Annual Veteran’s Day Celebration and Fundraiser.

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