Oregon State University's NROTC was housed in the Navy ROTC Armory, a group of World War II-era Quonset huts from 1951 to 2020. In summer 2020, NROTC moved to an updated space in Cascade Hall and the Navy ROTC Armory was removed as part of the Washington Way Improvement Project.
The Navy ROTC Armory (also known as the Naval ROTC Armory) holds many fond memories for the midshipmen and officers of the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program at Oregon State University.
“For more than 68 years, OSU NROTC’s ‘Beaver Battalion’ has commissioned the finest naval officers in the nation out of our Quonset huts. We are excited to continue that tradition at Cascade Hall, living up to our title of ‘Best in the West’.”
~Midshipman 1/C Christopher Hoskins, U.S. Naval Reserve.
History of the Navy ROTC Armory Quonset Huts
The Quonset hut that would become the Navy ROTC Armory was constructed in 1946, as a part of a group of twenty Quonset huts erected on the Oregon State University campus for emergency classroom and office purposes. The Quonset huts were obtained through the Titan Metal Products Corporation which constructed the structures.
After World War II, surplus Quonset huts became common in civilian roles. Particularly, the huts were a frequent sight on university campuses as they provided a means of rapidly expanding university facilities in order to cope with the large influx of new students, largely a result of the GI Bill, which provided tuition and other assistance to returning military personnel. The same year that the Quonset huts were erected saw the highest post-war enrollment of veterans.
The Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program was initially located in a different Quonset hut, which was located to the west of Moreland Hall along SW 26th Street. This structure later was demolished to facilitate construction of the Native American Longhouse Eena Haws.
In June 1951, the Navy ROTC program moved into its current structure, which was located just east of SW 30th Street at that time. This Quonset hut had been originally constructed to provide a dining facility for student World War II veterans, many of whom lived in Central and Hudson Halls; these buildings stood in the area now occupied by Cauthorn, Poling, Buxton, and Hawley Halls. As the new home of the Navy ROTC program, the building was used for rainy day drills and storage. By 1953, the building became a complete training center for the Navy and Marine Corps ROTC program. Its largest room was used as a lecture hall and assembly room, as well as a place for entertainment when large audiences were expected.
In 1959, the Navy ROTC Armory building was relocated to its current location on SW Washington Way. The relocation of the building allowed for the construction of West Hall and West Dining Center in 1960. The Navy ROTC Armory remained at this location until the decommissioning of the building in 2020.
Quonset huts by design were temporary structures, and documentation shows that the Navy ROTC Armory building was no exception. Around the time the Quonset hut was moved, a Field Artillery Unit to the armory was proposed to be built to the east of the building. Though never constructed, it would have been two stories in height with a footprint of 75 by 100 feet and used to store military gear. The university had acquired modern military equipment without the means to store it. Also, a Naval Science Building was proposed to provide greater classroom space to teach ROTC classes. Both of these proposed but unbuilt structures would have supplied the OSU Navy ROTC with more permanent structures to house the program, replacing the more informal and temporary Quonset hut.
Memorabilia Collection, 29.13 Buildings: Quonset Huts, 1946, Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.
Oregon Historic Site Form—Intensive Level Survey, ILS_Navy ROTC Armory, 4/28/2009.
Memorabilia Collection, 138.4 - 138.6 Reserve Officer Training Corps - Navy (3 folders), Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.
Facilities Services Records (RG 193), Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.
Oregon State University, Digital Vault, 0117-0015-001, ROTC Armory Preliminary Study New Classrooms, 6/8/1956.