Activities ramp up at the Astoria Armory

11/16/2015 By Sue Cody

 

Armory 1In its heyday, the Astoria Armory was jumping and jiving with bands entertaining troops at the USO club. It opened as the National Guard Armory in 1942.

 

Now the sounds are a bit different as families take in Family Skate Night, kids play soccer or the Shanghaied Roller Dolls bump and shove during one of their bouts.

 

In the mid-1990s, the Armory closed as a skating rink. It was used as a church for a while, then it sat idle for many years. In 2014, Friends of the Astoria Armory formed to open the old building as a recreation center and venue for community events.

 

Bruce Jones, president of the board of directors, said, “It’s a great, beautiful space; of course people are going to want to use it.”

 

The Shanghaied Roller Dolls moved in and began sponsoring Roller Derby bouts and roller skating lessons for kids.

 

A concession stand was built to serve pizza and snacks.

 

Every Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. is Family Skate Night with a $3 admission and $3 skate rental. “It’s great to see a family of four go skating for the price of one person going to a movie,” said Community Director and Events Coordinator Robyn Koustik.

 

Futsal – or indoor soccer – has become popular at the Armory. After a summer hiatus, the leagues are starting up again. Last winter there were men’s, women’s and children’s leagues. The Lower Columbia Youth Soccer Association has futsal scheduled on Tuesdays. Adult futsal is on Thursdays.

Armory 2 Roller hockey is another activity in the formative stages. It is for all ages and open to the public from 7 to 9 p.m. Mondays.

 

Some young people came to the board and wanted to use the facility for skateboarding. They built an indoor skate park with a ramp and halfpipes in the basement. “It’s great to see kids have a place to go in the winter,” Koustik said.

 

Big Gay Skate Night attracts a crowd after hours. The next one is Nov. 21 after a Shanghaied Roller Dolls’ bout. The event is family friendly from 8 to 9 p.m., then it is adults only, with a bar available. All are welcome to skate, dance or sit and visit.

 

The Armory doesn’t want to run programs, Jones said, but it would like to see it full at all times. He said the board wants the space used for anything that supports health and fitness.

 

Other events have included a Mayor’s Ball, a Christmas bazaar, a Monster Bash and birthday parties.  A Starving Artist Faire is scheduled for Dec. 4-6. The Armory is available for rental, and is operated as a nonprofit.

 

Armory 3Building rental prices:

• $700: full day

• $450: 6-7 hours

• $95: one hour

 

Improvements and support

 

Jones said after one event, it became clear they would have to improve the acoustics in order to use the venue as a concert hall. That is on the agenda for improvements. Other project plans include building another exit, repairing a stairway and bringing the restrooms up to ADA compliance.

 

Donations are accepted and should be made out to Friends of the Astoria Armory and mailed to P.O. Box 777, Astoria, OR 97103.

 

The Astoria Armory is located at 1636 Exchange St. To schedule an event, contact Koustik at 503-791-6064. For information and a calendar of events, see www.astoriaarmory.com

 

For information on children’s leagues, contact the Lower Columbia Youth Soccer Association at www.lcysafutsal@gmail.com.