Monday, January 30, 2023

An old armory vacant for 23 years has a new lease on life

The Vanguard Brewpub and Distillery opened in Hampton this year (HNNDaily Photo/ Courtesy of The Vanguard Brewpub and Distillery)
The Vanguard Brewpub and Distillery opened in Hampton this year (HNNDaily Photo/ Courtesy of The Vanguard Brewpub and Distillery)

HAMPTON — The Vanguard Brewpub and Distillery opened in downtown earlier this year.

The building, approximately 18,500 square feet, was originally a Virginia National Guard Armory built in 1936. It remained vacant for 23 years until the city started seeking proposals for a new craft brewery, distillery or live entertainment venue.

The Vanguard is a combination of all three, plus a restaurant. The building is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

“The first brewpub and distillery in the state,” said Randy Thomas, co-owner of The Vanguard.

The name Vanguard came from the old armory engraving: Virginia National Guard, Thomas said.

Thomas and his business partner, Bjorn Marshall, invested nearly $4 million into the project and incorporated some of the building’s original features, including the two eagles located on the outside of the building.

The pair also co-own Spacemakers Inc., a Norfolk general contractor, and have built other breweries throughout Hampton Roads, including Oozlefinch Craft Brewery also in Hampton, Tradition Brewing Company in Newport News, Commonwealth Brewing Company and Smarthmouth Brewing Company in Virginia Beach and O’Connor Brewing Company in Norfolk.

Thomas described The Vanguard as an upscale environment with modest prices.

“I want you to feel like you got a really good value for your money,” he said.

The Vanguard Brewery and Distillery, 504 N. King St. is open every day from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.

For more information, visit their website or call 757-224-1216.

Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsigliano is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She covers everything on the Peninsula from local government and law enforcement agencies to family-run businesses and weather updates. Before WYDaily, she covered Hampton and Newport News for WYDaily’s sister publication, HNNDaily before both publications merged in December 2018. Julia was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Long Island, New York in 2001. A true New Yorker, she loves pizza, bagels and good Chinese food. Send comments, tips and other tidbits to You can follow her on Twitter at @jmarsigliano

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