Building of the Day: 6301 2nd Avenue, a Former Armory in Sunset Park

Brooklyn, one building at a time.

No matter how big or small, excess stuff has to be stored somewhere. Before this great building became a self-storage facility, it stored armaments and supplies for the National Guard.

Name: Former Brooklyn Arsenal, now Extra Space self-storage
Address: 6301 2nd Avenue
Cross Streets: 63rd and 64th streets
Neighborhood: Sunset Park
Year Built: 1924-26
Architectural Style: Fortress
Architect: Sullivan W. Jones
Other works by architect: Alfred E. Smith Building in Albany, City Hall in Buffalo. Also armory in Hempstead, Long Island
Landmarked: No

The crenellated castle armories of the late 19th century were the inspiration for more-modern armory architects. The fortresses on many of our neighborhood streets were built for shock and awe, and that tradition carried through into the new century. But here, overlooking New York Bay, the inspiration came from another military installation.

This arsenal is next door to the U.S. Army Military Ocean Terminal, architect Cass Gilbert’s massive reinforced concrete staging area and warehouse for the military built in 1918. This building was designed to complement it.

Gilbert may have brought the “awe,” but this building provided the “shock.” After all, it was designed to be filled with guns, ammo and the armaments of war.

Sunset Park Brooklyn 6301 2 Ave Brooklyn Arsenal Building of the Day

1926 photo, with armory still under construction. Photo via Brooklyn Public Library

An Armory for a New Century

Brooklyn had a central storage facility for its National Guard militias — between 1858 and the late 1870s it was the State Arsenal (Second Division) on North Portland Avenue, near the Navy Yard. When another regiment took over the space, Brooklyn was without a central arsenal until this building was completed in 1926.

The architect for this modern fortress was Sullivan W. Jones, an M.I.T. graduate who went on to become Governor Alfred E. Smith’s favorite architect.

He was appointed state architect, a position he held from 1923-28. During that time, he designed office buildings, state government buildings, state college buildings and armories. Much of his work was in Albany, but he also designed the Art Deco–styled Buffalo City Hall and a couple of banks, too.

This building is one of the two armories he designed for New York. The other is in Hempstead, Long Island and looks exactly like this one, if you lopped off the upper three stories.

The building resembles a prison, which is perhaps fitting. It was meant to keep what’s inside, inside. All of Brooklyn’s National Guard units kept some of their hardware here, as well as small arms. The thick reinforced concrete walls and small windows helped make the building extra secure.

The country was not at war when the building was built, but activity picked up during World War II, when this facility, as well as the nearby Army Terminal, were ramped up into high gear.

Sunset Park Brooklyn 6301 2 Ave Brooklyn Arsenal Building of the Day

Photo via Google Maps

Later History

After the war, things settled back down — so much so that the National Guard closed the facility in the late 1950s and moved its storage facility to Peekskill and ownership of this building went to the city of New York.

The building is a whopping 200 by 700 feet with a usable square footage of 183,415 square feet. Finding a use for that much space is difficult, so it’s been transformed into a space-starved-Brooklyn-friendly storage facility.

Once home to boxes of rifles and heavy ordinance, today 6301 2nd Avenue houses college record collections, baby wares and grandma’s furniture that you’d never put in your house but are too sentimental to get rid of.

Top photo via I’m Just Walkin’

Sunset Park Brooklyn 6301 2 Ave Brooklyn Arsenal Building of the Day

Photo by Kate Leonova for PropertyShark

Sunset Park Brooklyn 6301 2 Ave Brooklyn Arsenal Building of the Day

Photo via Google Maps

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