Closed after decades of service as a Richmond school, the armory was reopened once again to serve black servicemen. In 1942, the building became the Monroe Center, a recreation center for black troops. The U.S. Office of Civilian Defense converted classrooms to dormitories and built a gym behind the building where the schoolyard had been. For black GIs who were passing through Richmond, the armory became an oasis where they could find a bed for the night, a hot meal and a shower. Volunteering to help at the Leigh Street Armory became for many Richmond blacks was their way of personally supporting the American war effort in World War II.