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News | Oct. 25, 2019

Demo of circa World War I defense building marks end of one era and beginning of another

In 1918, the U.S. Army Quartermaster Department established a depot on 851 acres of land in rural New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, based on its proximity to the Susquehanna River and Pennsylvania Railroad. Now, after 101 years of service, the last original warehouse structure from that era is being demolished.

Created as depot headquarters under President Woodrow Wilson, building A1 was constructed at the cost of $296,000 (more than $5 million in today’s dollars). While the Army Depot construction was not finished until the end of World War I, the depot was a major hub for logistics and military reception center during World War II.

In the 101 years that followed, building A1 served multiple functions including base commissary, warehouse and the Morale, Welfare and Recreation facility. In recent years, however, the building has become increasingly less efficient and more costly, falling well behind modern building codes and standards. According to Johnathan Tassone, supervisor construction control representative for DLA Installation Management Susquehanna, the time has come for the outdated structure to be removed to make way for a newer facility.

“Today we are looking at the demolition of building one,” says Tassone, “to make way for a larger, more efficient warehouse to better support the warfighter. In its place we’re going to put a warehouse that practically double its size. It will be up to date, more efficient and will save us money as far as utilities. It will also give the base more space.”

Tassone says the new construction will include the use of environmentally friendly materials and more advance construction features including heated floors to reduce heating, ventilation and air conditioning costs in the winter.

Rob Montefour, site director of DLA Installation Management Susquehanna, says the demolition of A1 marks the end of one era and beginning of another.

“It is the long-term goal to replace all of the WWI and WWII structures and replace them with energy-efficient warehouses,” Montefour says, citing the recent demolition of 140 base housing units that cost more than $1 million per year to maintain. “It’s one way we are fulfilling our oath to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”