The Missouri Air National Guard’s 131st Civil Engineer Squadron and the 231st Civil Engineer Flight completed their move into the newly renovated historic Building 29 here during drill weekend in November.
The engineers, previously scattered throughout six facilities across the base, began the transition during October drill weekend and wrapped up the move in just over a month, said Lt. Col. Dan Nelsen, 131st CES commander. The 25,000-square-foot building had been unoccupied for more than half a century and was most recently used as a temporary storage facility.
Earlier this summer, 22 131st CES Citizen-Airmen installed approximately 19 miles of network cable, 812 ports and 203 drops for individual workstations in 12 days in the building, saving about $30,000 in labor costs, according to Nelsen.
“With the renovation now complete, it allows for cross-shop collaboration that didn’t happen before,” said Nelsen. “It also consolidates many high-value assets that were temporarily stored at Lambert that can now be used here.”
Before the move-in, the wing hosted more than 50 military and community leaders at a ceremonial ribbon-cutting event held in September. Attendees witnessed the unveiling of the newly restored facility; a project three years in the making.
The Missouri National Guard worked closely with the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office to keep important historic elements of the building intact, including the building’s brick-and-stone exterior façade with covered porticos and its unique interior load-bearing cast-iron columns, along with its wide wood interior staircase and its chimneys.
Jefferson Barracks is the oldest continuously operational U.S. military installation west of the Mississippi River and was established in 1826. Built in 1898, Building 29 is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was first used as a cavalry barracks by the U.S. Army at the dawn of the 20th century.
“The Missouri National Guard wanted to ensure the history of Jefferson Barracks was preserved,” said Maj. Gen. Stephen Danner, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard. “Nearly every major military figure in early American history has, at one time, passed through these gates,” including Generals-turned-Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower, along with Generals Robert E. Lee and William T. Sherman.
The entire facility was renovated to comply with current construction requirements and building codes. This included gutting the entire building down to the interior brick, then essentially rebuilding an all-new structure within the old brick façade in order to provide adequate seismic and anti-terrorism force protection for the building.
The effort restored the arch windows on the third floor and repaired the interior stairwell from the first through third floors, along with the existing cast-iron columns located in the east and west wings on the first and second floors.