Built in 1936-38, the Manti National Guard Armory is part of the Public Works Buildings Thematic Resource nomination and is significant because it helps document the impact of New Deal programs in Utah, which was one of the states that the Great Depression of the 1930s most severely affected. In 1933 Utah had an unemployment rate of 36 percent, the fourth highest in the country, and for the period 1932-1940 Utah’s unemployment rate averaged 25 percent. Because the depression hit Utah so hard, federal programs were extensive in the state. Overall, per capita federal spending in Utah during the 1930s was 9th among the 48 states, and the percentage of workers on federal work projects was far above the national average. Building programs were of great importance. During the 1930s virtually every public building constructed in Utah, including county courthouses, city halls, fire stations, national guard armories, public school buildings, and a variety of others, were built under federal programs by one of several agencies, including the Civil Works Administration (CWA), the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), the National Youth Administration (NYA), the Works Progress Administration (WPA), or the Public Works Administration (PWA), and almost without exception none of
the buildings would have been built when they were without the assistance of the federal government.
The Manti National Guard Armory is one of 232 buildings constructed in
Utah during the 1930s and early 1940s under the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and other New Deal programs. Of those 232 buildings, 133 are still standing and are eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. This is one of 9 armories built, 6 of which are still standing. In Sanpete County 17 buildings were constructed, 13 of which remain.
The architect of this building was Niels P. Larsen of Salt Lake City.
Larsen designed several other National Guard armories in Utah, all of which are virtually the same in appearance. They include the armories in Nephi, Fillmore, Mt. Pleasant and Spanish Fork, which are still standing, and the demolished armories that were in Logan and Cedar City. The supervisor of construction of the Manti armory was Bernard Parry and the foreman was Marvin Anderson.
Although built to serve as a National Guard armory, this building was used
for many years as a factory. In the early 1940s, in an effort to aid the war
effort and to provide jobs in the community, the building was turned over to the Parachute Company of Utah for use as a parachute factory. The building was significantly expanded in the mid-1940s by a $100,000 addition on the south, which was financed by the state. Reliance Manufacturing Company took over the facility in July 1944 and continued producing parachutes until September 1945, when it began manufacturing men’s jackets. The company employed approximately 200 men and women. In 1949 the building was leased to the Carlisle Manufacturing Company, which contracted with the federal government to produce military uniforms. By the early 1950s the factory, which employed over 300 workers, was claimed to be one of the largest, most modernly equipped plants west of the Mississippi. Carlisle was bought out by Pacific Trail Sportswear in 1961, about which time the armory and the addition were separated, both in terms of ownership and use. Pyke Manufacturing Company currently has its operations in the large addition, and the original armory building serves as general offices of Cox Construction Company and Cox Enterprises.