Building 2, The Arsenal

By: Peter Grilley, Rick Patterson | Published: 2020-03-02

The Adjutant General’s Biannual report to the Governor for 1912-1914 recommended “…There should be constructed at Cosgrove Station a fireproof warehouse in which can be stored … tentage, wagons and other field equipment used … by the troops in the annual encampments.”

The Arsenal, the first permanent building on Camp Murray, was completed in 1916 at a cost of $17,457.09, just in time for the Mexican Border Campaign Mobilization. The Arsenal served as the WNG’s principal supply facility until 1956 when the United States Property and Fiscal Office moved to temporary quarters in the former Naval Supply Depot in south Tacoma.

Since 1916, the building has served as home for a variety of National Guard units.

During the 1960s and 1970s, a section of the second floor was configured as an apartment serving as residence for the Camp Murray caretaker. In the 1990s, the building underwent a much needed renovation to ensure the future of the then 80 year old building. The renovation included removing the apartment and adding structural re-enforcements.

In 1990, the downstairs space was allocated to the beginning operations of the Museum. In the subsequent years, the Museum has occupied more space in the building as units have relocated to other buildings.

The year 2016 found a joint cooperation agreement between the National Guard Association of Washington, the Washington National Guard Museum and a WNG Unit for occupation of the Arsenal. The joint occupation has proved extremely beneficial to all and is expected to continue into the foreseeable future.


To His Excellency, Ernest Lister, Governor, and Commander in Chief, Olympia, Washington


In 1903 the State purchased approximately 220 acres of land at American Lake, in Pierce County, paying thirty dollars an acre therefore, for the use of the Military Department for encampments and other military purposes. This land is splendidly located for this purpose and has been of the greatest value to the National Guard in every particular. At the present time it is believed that the market value of a large portion of this tract is from two hundred and fifty to five hundred dollars an acre.

In the judgment of The Adjutant General it is desirable that there should be constructed, at Cosgrove station on this reservation, a fireproof warehouse in which there can be stored the tentage, wagons and other field equipment used each year by the troops in their annual encampments. At the present time it is necessary to transport this equipment from the State arsenal, at Seattle, to the camp site each year which involves a considerable item of expense. The State arsenal is now overcrowded and such a warehouse would relieve the congestion vary materially. There should also be erected, in connection with this warehouse a small dwelling house for a caretaker, who would have charge of the State arsenal and at the same time be able to look after the entire military reservation and protect it from damage.

The entire tract of land should be properly fenced, considerable underbrush cleared out and the property kept in the best possible condition. In this connection The Adjutant General desires to advise Your Excellency that some damage has been done to this property during the winter months by persons cutting down standing timber and stealing wood off of this land and by driving of wagons across the land in spite of trespass notices and temporary fences. There has also been a constant danger from fires started by campers during the summer months and this office has been advised that on several occasions fires have been started which would have done great damage if they had not been observed by neighboring residents and extinguished. For these reasons it is suggested that an appropriation should be made for the purpose of erecting a warehouse, caretaker’s dwelling and for the proper safeguarding and protecting the land. All such improvements would be of a permanent character and in case of a mobilization of the troops of this State for Federal service at this point would be of material assistance in handling the supplies and equipment during the period of the mobilization camp.

In closing this report, my last official act as Adjutant General, I desire to express to Your Excellency my sincere appreciation of the trust and confidence which you have shown in me and the consistent support you have given me as the head of this department Permit me to say also that in my judgment Your Excellency’s choice of Major Maurice Thompson, 2nd Infantry, as my successor is a most fortunate one and I transfer the office to him with complete confidence that he will administer its affairs with distinguished success.

Very respectfully,

The Adjutant General