Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Congressman Charles B. Rangel, today announced that $31 million in authorized funding for the renovation of the National Guard offices of the historic 369th Infantry Regiment Armory located in the heart of Harlem has passed both chambers of Congress as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2014 and now heads to President Obama to be signed into law. The refurbishment of the 1920’s era facility will include major repairs from water damage, upgrades to the building’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, plumbing, and connectivity. The original 369th Infantry Regiment was founded in 1913 as the first and only National Guard unit in New York State composed solely of African-Americans.
“This is great news for the Harlem Armory,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Critical repairs and needed upgrades will finally be made to this historic building located right in the heart of Harlem and will help our National Guard continue its critical mission and preserve the important history of the ‘Harlem Hell Fighters.’”
“The Harlem Armory is filled with hard-working, determined ‘Hell Fighters,’ many of whom have dedicated their lives to defending our nation,” said Congressman Rangel. “Likewise the National Guard is comprised of persevering individuals who devote their lives to safeguarding our communities. Knowing firsthand their sacrifices, it makes me proud that federal funding is being invested in the heroes who gave so much of themselves and to ensure that their contributions to America will never be forgotten.”
The New York Army National Guard’s role was expanded after the terrorist attacks on 9-11 and was mobilized to fight the war on terror. The passage of the $31 million dollars in funding will allow the New York Division of Military and Naval Affairs to expand their Army National Guard Readiness Soldier and Family Programs at the Armory. In addition, the authorized funding will go towards reconstruction and significant improvements to accommodate the modern needs of the facility. Currently, this historic building is facing issues with water damage, an aging exterior, and its heating and cooling system. The funding will be used to transition the office space into a high performance building, and provide for the health and safety of the building occupants, as well as extend the life cycle of this historical structure.
After the renovations are complete, exhibits of artifacts and photos that depict the history of the 369th Harlem Hell Fighters from World War 1 to the present will be on display. Retired General Nathaniel James, President of the 369th Historical Society and National President of the 369th Veterans’ Association is overseeing this process and is working very closely with the Adjutant General of the New York National Guard on this very important project to preserve our African American Military History.
Listed under the National Register of Historic Places, the facility is home of the renowned “Harlem Hell Fighters,” New York’s official black regiment or the 369th Infantry Regiment, whose efforts in World War I brought military success and accolades. The armory consists of two sections, the drill shed and the administration building.
Federal defense spending must be authorized before money can be appropriated. Congress has approved the bill and the NDAA now moves to the President for his signature before the funds can finally be appropriated.