ATLANTIC, Iowa — For 14 years Steve Livengood was a Iowa National Guard staffer at the Armory in Atlantic. When the Guard decided to close the Armory, Livengood found himself retired as an employee of the Guard.
Fast forward to 2020. Livengood is now part owner of the Armory where once served the Iowa National Guard. Livengood serves as president of the Atlantic Rock Island Society Enterprise, or ARISE. That group was founded to preserve the old Rock Island Depot, and later expanded to include other area historic buildings, including the former Armory, which also has been the Atlantic Legion Hall.
The building has been renovated to house a military museum. Parts of the building have yet to be restored, including Atlantic’s first-ever gymnasium. It’s now called the American Legion Memorial Building.
“When they built this building it was the place in town there was no gymnasium,” said Livengood. “There’s a gymnasium here, the Harlem Globetrotters played here, there’s an auditorium Lawrence Welk played here.”
While the building serves a number of veteran groups for a meeting space, it also houses the military artifacts, including three jeep-like military vehicles, and a working scale model canon. The room also features collections of various military memorabilia, some owned by Livengood, others donated family members items, or awards at the time of their passing.
One room contains a flag-draped casket as a memorial to those soldiers who have passed.
“People come here and they’re like I don’t really wanna go into that room,” said Livengood. “I’m like it’s fine just come in here there’s nobody in the casket, it is un-occupied.”
The building also has a library filled with books on the military.
“All these books in here or military books only here are a few fiction most all of them are reference books,” said Livengood.
The Museum is open Saturdays 1-4 pm, or by appointment. For contact information on ARISE, check their website here.