National Trust Urges U.S. Navy to Reconsider the Demolition of Pensacola Naval Air Station Historic Buildings
Washington, D.C. (August 3, 2005) – The National Trust for Historic Preservation is strongly urging the United States Navy to reconsider the demolition of 39 historic structures located at the Pensacola Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida. The Navy is proposing the demolition of these historic structures at Pensacola, which include 29 – more than two-thirds – of the historic buildings within the Pensacola Naval Air Station National Historic Landmark District, citing damage from Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. As the birthplace of naval aviation, the National Historic Landmark District at Pensacola has extraordinary significance for the nation’s military history and is also highly important to the local community in Pensacola.
“Since the adoption of the National Historic Preservation Act, the National Trust is aware of no other demolition of federally owned historic property that compares with the scale of the Navy’s proposed demolition in Pensacola,” said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “The Pensacola Naval Air Station National Historic Landmark District is the Independence Hall of our nation’s naval history. To lose the heart of this irreplaceable historic district at the hand of the U.S. Navy itself is incomprehensible. The National Trust strongly encourages the Navy to reconsider its demolition plans and follow through with the mothball and minimal rehabilitation alternatives recommended by the Preservation Analysis Reports to save this extraordinarily significant place in America’s military history.”
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In an effort to comply with the National Historic Preservation Act, the Navy entered into a Memorandum of Agreement with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. The agreement identified 16 of the most significant historic buildings slated for demolition, and required the Navy to evaluate alternatives to demolition through Preservation Analysis Reports, which would recommend ways to preserve and reuse the buildings. All but four of the 16 buildings evaluated are 19th century buildings.
The resulting studies showed that virtually all of the 16 most significant historic buildings can be cost-effectively preserved through minimal rehabilitation or mothballing efforts, and that none of the damage from Hurricane Ivan is irreparable. Despite these results, the Navy has decided to preserve only three of the 16 most significant buildings. In general, the Navy has cited excess capacity as the basis for its preference to eliminate, rather than repair, the historic structures at Pensacola.
On Monday, August 8, the President’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation will meet in Pensacola to review and comment on the Navy’s demolition proposals. The National Trust is encouraging local residents to attend the public hearing, and to voice their opposition to the proposed demolition. The public hearing will take place from 12:30-3:00 PM in the McMillan Room (Room 3700) of the Pensacola Junior College, Warrington Campus, 5555 Highway 98 West.
For more information about the proposed demolition of 39 of Pensacola Naval Air Station’s historic buildings, please contact the National Trust Office of Communications, 202-588-6141.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a private, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to saving historic places and revitalizing America’s communities. Recipient of the National Humanities Medal, the Trust was founded in 1949 and provides leadership, education, advocacy, and resources to protect the irreplaceable places that tell America’s story. Staff at the Washington, D.C. headquarters, six regional offices and 26 historic sites work with the Trust’s 270,000 members and thousands of preservation groups in all 50 states. For more information, visit the Trust’s web site at www.nationaltrust.org.