March 26, 2013 | Malcolm Johnstone
April 13 at the West Chester Armory (226 N High St) will be a historic night as Uptown! Entertainment Alliance presents a Red Carpet Gala that will both bid farewell to the oldest organized military unit in the country and introduce the dream of establishing a permanent theater in downtown West Chester.
The Pennsylvania National Guard unit currently stationed at the armory is made up of approximately 170 troops of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 111th Infantry Regiment, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team. It was organized on November 21, 1747, by Benjamin Franklin making it the oldest military unit in the U.S. The unit was originally called the Associators after the Articles of Association drafted to govern for the common defense of Pennsylvania. It’s one of the few units to still fly its original flag designed by Benjamin Franklin (seen at right). The unit is set to move into the new Coatesville Readiness Center in Sadsbury this fall.
The armory was built in 1916 and was designed by Philip H. Johnson of Philadelphia (1868-1933). It was dedicated as the Major John C. Groff Memorial Armory sometime in the 1920s.
On Friday, April 5, 2013, State Senator Andy Dinniman announced plans for the Uptown! Entertainment Alliance to acquire the armory for a theater. A dedicated group of community volunteers are now working toward making the theater a reality. More information is available at UptownWC.org.
Tickets for the event are available and the public is encouraged to be part of what will be a historic moment in West Chester.
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updated April 8, 2013