ATLANTIC CITY — A plaque on the Morris Guards armory congratulates the group, which once claimed more than 1,000 members, for how it “served the city, state and nation” from 1887 to 1987.

The Morris Guards were known for members volunteering for battle over that century, including in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, the 1898 conflict that turned Teddy Roosevelt into an American hero and future president. The leaders of the Morris Guards actually competed with a local National Guard unit for the honor of having their soldiers sent to Cuba.

The group’s armory, on New York Avenue just south of Atlantic, was built in 1901 and sold in 1983. The building was home to decades of social events, and the Guards regularly put teams in local sports leagues. The members also apparently competed among themselves: On one upper floor, current owner John Longacre can point out the bullet holes from an indoor shooting range.

Another plaque on the outside wall says the building was once the local office of the former state Division of Youth and Family Services.

Mary Lou Ferry, of Farley & Ferry Realty in Ventnor, bought the armory with partners in 2006. The price was $635,000, she says, and it was basically on the market from then until Longacre bought it in 2014.

Over the years, it drew offers of up to $1.6 million from medical groups, law firms, a distillery and developers of “high-end housing,” Ferry says. But no one could close the deal until Longacre finally got it, for $325,000.


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