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Hollywood's Historic Armory: Transformed Into A Vibrant Community Center

August 24, 2023

In the heart of Hollywood, history and modernity are coming together in a remarkable way. The city, known for its vibrant culture and beautiful beach, is taking a step back in time to breathe new life into a historic landmark. The Dowdy Community Center Project has officially kicked off, aiming to renovate the old National Guard Armory building into a State-Of-The-Art Community Hub.

Stepping back to 1934, Hollywood's recreational landscape was enriched with the opening of Dowdy Field. What started as a local baseball park quickly became the spring training home of the Baltimore Orioles. The park later became the spring training camp for a New York Yankees minor league baseball team, making it a significant piece of sports history for the city.

The park itself was named after Earl T. "Pop" Dowdy, a well-loved manager of the town's Piggly Wiggly grocery store and a passionate supporter of local baseball leagues. Located in the city's south-central section on Johnson Street, Dowdy Field was a symbol of community spirit and shared experiences for decades.

Adjacent to Dowdy Field stood the National Guard Armory, constructed in 1954. This sturdy building served as the base for the Florida National Guard's First Battalion 124th Infantry, from where soldiers were deployed around the globe. Stepping into the armory was like entering a time capsule, with its original construction and lack of modern amenities like HVAC.

In 2018, as the National Guard moved on to new facilities, the City of Hollywood took ownership of the Armory. Unfortunately, for the last five years, it served merely as storage space, its potential untapped and its historical significance overshadowed.

However, Hollywood's commitment to preserving its heritage and enhancing the quality of life for its residents did not wane. With the aid of the General Obligation Bond, the City set its sights on transforming the old Armory into a vibrant community center that would become a focal point for residents of all ages.

The "Kicking Off" Ceremony, held recently, marked the official beginning of the Dowdy Community Center Project. This lively event gathered members of the community, city officials, and local celebrities to celebrate the building's revitalization. As the event unfolded, excitement filled the air, knowing that this historic gem would soon experience a grand transformation.

The proposed floor plan for the Dowdy Community Center is nothing short of impressive. Among the amenities planned are an indoor sports facility boasting basketball courts, batting cages, and soccer goals. Sports enthusiasts and aspiring athletes will soon have a dedicated space to hone their skills and engage in friendly competitions.

The community center will also be equipped with ADA-Compliant Restrooms, meeting rooms, and office spaces to accommodate various activities and gatherings. Whether it's a community meeting, a workshop, or an art class, the center aims to be a place where ideas are exchanged, talents are nurtured, and friendships are formed.

One of the most exciting additions is the new gymnasium. The gymnasium will also cater to indoor soccer enthusiasts, and retractable bleachers will provide seating for spectators to enjoy the games in comfort.

Moreover, the incorporation of drop-down batting cages is a thoughtful touch, allowing baseball and softball enthusiasts to perfect their swings and work on their pitching skills regardless of the weather outside. The space will be a sanctuary for sports lovers, where they can embrace their passion and find like-minded individuals.

With an eye on preserving its historical charm, the Dowdy Community Center will also feature the original Armory vault door, reminding visitors of the building's past significance. The blend of history with modern facilities and conveniences is what makes this project unique.

As the Dowdy Community Center project gains momentum, the excitement in Hollywood grows palpable. Local residents eagerly anticipate the day they can step inside the transformed Armory and experience the sense of community that will flourish within its walls.

Beyond being a place for sports and events, the center will undoubtedly become a beacon of togetherness, where generations come together to create memories and strengthen their bond. Hollywood's commitment to preserving its history and investing in the future will soon become a reality, and the Dowdy Community Center will undoubtedly stand as a testament to the city's dedication to its people.

Hollywood proves that even as the world moves forward, it's essential to embrace the past and cherish the stories that shape a community's identity.

The Dowdy Community Center once completed will be located at: 2161 Johnson Street, Hollywood, Florida 33020.

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