The Armory was constructed in 1905 by the United States Army and used for the final training and processing of war-bound (World War I and World War II) soldiers. Its use was not limited to the military, however, as its 35,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) main arena (originally intended for drill exercises) was used for events of widely varying natures—ranging from professional basketball to auto shows—for most of the early to mid-20th century. The construction and opening of the Rochester Community War Memorial (now known as the Blue Cross Arena) in the 1950s brought the Armory's reign as the primary indoor venue in Rochester to an end as most of the Armory's signature tenants left the small, aging Armory for the spacious, new War Memorial 1 mile (1.6 km) to the west in the heart of downtown. The New York National Guard continued to use the Armory as a training facility until 1990, at which point the Armory became largely abandoned.
By 2005, the building had fallen into a severe state of disrepair from years of disuse and neglect. The arena floor was covered in pigeon droppings, the birds having been the building's primary occupants for fifteen years, and the building's roof, windows, and interior systems were in poor condition. In July 2005, the building was purchased at auction by local entrepreneur Scott Donaldson. He paid only US$1,000 for the 138,000-square-foot (1,300-square-meter), 7-story building, as no one else bid for it. Donaldson, who is blind, was told he never would have bought it if he could have seen it, but he has invested thousands of dollars into repairs and refurbishment, and the building is once again hosting events.
Much of the non-arena portion of the building is being converted into office space, some of which is already filled. The basement of the building is now used as a venue for indoor paintball events and group parties.