Richmond, VA

Black History Museum


Built circa 1895 and listed on state and national registers, the First Virginia Volunteers Battalion Armory, also known as the Leigh Street Armory, remains as one of the only existing armories built for an African-American military battalion. After receiving a state grant in 2011, the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia announced plans to repurpose the Leigh Street Armory as their new home. SGH was the structural engineer of record for the armory’s renovation and its addition.

The armory suffered severe damage from fire, neglect, exposure to the elements, and vandalism. In 2002, the armory received a grant under the U.S. Department of the Interior Save America’s Treasures Program. SGH assessed the existing structure and developed a building enclosure rehabilitation and structural stabilization program with plans and specifications in conformance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.

In 2012, the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia undertook renovating the existing two-story armory to house exhibits and functions, as well as constructing a three-story addition with an open lobby, new stair and elevator access, and other support spaces. Highlights of SGH’s structural design include the following:

  • Strengthening the armory floor framing to accommodate public use
  • Constructing a masonry bearing wall addition to compliment the armory’s aesthetics and preserve its space for displays
  • Using hollow-core precast concrete floor planks for the new addition to maintain a thin floor profile, while limiting floor vibrations and sound transmission between levels
  • Detailing steel framing within the addition’s east wall to create knock-out panels to allow for future expansion

Project Summary



Completion Date
New Construction | Repair & Rehabilitation
Culture & Entertainment
Specialized Capabilities
Building Design | Repair & Strengthening

Key team members

Gary Strand
Gary Strand
Structural Engineering Division Head, Washington, DC