Bel Air Armory Celebrates 108th Birthday


Tyler Kirk, Staff Writer

The Bel Air Armory, also known as the Reckord Armory, is turning 108 this year. Over the past 108 years it has changed ownership, seen men off to war, and held many celebrations throughout. Many battalions/national guard units called this place home at one point or another; written here is that brief history.  

In 1915 an architect by the name of John Bentz designed a castle-like structure in downtown Bel Air, Maryland. It was constructed of granite shipped a few towns over from port deposit. There were long, narrow windows seated inside of the walls of the granite, with two main towers seating the main entrance between. An official description of the main building is transcribed in detail on a document from the United States Department of the Interior: “…the building consists of the main block, five bays by three, two stories over a raised basement, and the field house to the east (rear) of the main block. The front elevation is strongly divided into five bays by the two projecting hexagonal towers which rise to three stories…”1 

Twenty eight years earlier, in 1887, the Jackson guards were formed. The name was taken from Governor Elihu Jackson, the 41st governor of Maryland who served from 1888-1892. The guards consisted of around 80 men. In 1888, the company was renamed to ‘Company D. First Maryland Regiment Infantry’. In 1894 they were used to break up the Miners’ strike in western Maryland. They were also in service during the Spanish-American War. Later that summer they marched to Baltimore and took a train down to Fortress Monroe in Virginia, where they defended the fort from possible attacks. After, they went down to Puerto Rico to defend the island, but it had already been taken care of by the time the company arrived.   

After the beginning of the Great War in Europe, known now as World War I, President Theodore Roosevelt implemented improvements to make the United States more “war-ready”. Locally, these improvements included several new armories built around Maryland. As one can probably guess, the company operated out of the Bel Air armory until late World War II, when the brigade-structure became three separate regiments instead of the former two. They trained here with broomsticks and stovepipes, treating the brooms as guns and the stovepipes as mortars for preparation. Near the end of the war the whole battalion received the Croix de Gurre with palm, awarded for valor in battle and given during WW1 and WW2. The 115th regiment, and company D, received the Croix de Gurre with silver star, for men with an army dispatch. Both of which were French military awards.    

In 1984, the armory was named after Lt. General Milton A. Reckord, Adjutant General for the State of Maryland.  In 2004, the Armory was donated to the Town of Bel Air. Since then, the building has become a location for parties and many other town and privately hosted events. A park has been built on the Southeast side of the building, and a marketplace for local businesses in the rear for the public to enjoy.  

The Reckord armory will continue to be a historical staple in Bel Air, and will continue to be used for weekly public/daily events for years to come.  More information can also be found at the Harford County Historical Society.   


1 Larew, M. (1979, January 29). Bel Air Armory. Maryland Historical Trust. Retrieved March 23, 2023, from   

Zumer, B. (2015, November 13). A community stronghold, Bel Air Armory Marks 100 Years. Baltimore Sun. Retrieved March 23, 2023, from