Naval Air Station Museum undertakes annex move

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Here’s the plan — DeLand Naval Air Station Museum members Don Rowlee, left, and Scott Storz stand in the museum’s stripped-down annex building and hold up a set of plans for the building’s new site. Members of the museum are working to move the steel building to a lot next to the museum’s main building.

Here’s the plan — DeLand Naval Air Station Museum members Don Rowlee, left, and Scott Storz stand in the museum’s stripped-down annex building and hold up a set of plans for the building’s new site. Members of the museum are working to move the steel building to a lot next to the museum’s main building.

BEACON PHOTO/ANTHONY DeFEO

BARE BONES — By the end of February, volunteers from the DeLand Naval Air Station Museum had stripped their steel annex bulding down to its bare structure, in preparation to move it piece-by-piece to a site next to their main museum building.

BARE BONES — By the end of February, volunteers from the DeLand Naval Air Station Museum had stripped their steel annex bulding down to its bare structure, in preparation to move it piece-by-piece to a site next to their main museum building.

PHOTO COURTESY SCOTT STORZ

Reconstructed building to be new showcase for military history

 

An old steel building on the DeLand Municipal Airport grounds long used for storage and scheduled to be torn down will instead be used to showcase parts of the area’s rich military history, thanks to the work of a group of volunteers.

The DeLand Naval Air Station Museum has long used the annex building at 1050 Airport Terminal Drive, about a half-mile from their museum grounds at 910 Biscayne Blvd., for board meetings and to store exhibits they simply don’t have room for at their main location.

But as activity at the airport has picked up over the past several years, officials have embarked on a project to expand the airport’s ramp south, to create more parking space for airplanes.

That project put the annex building in the cross hairs, and would have left the museum scrambling for space.

Instead, the city is allowing volunteers with the DeLand Naval Air Station Museum to disassemble the annex building and reconstruct it on their main museum grounds on Biscayne Boulevard. The museum has dubbed the deconstruct-and-reconstruct effort “The Phoenix Project.”

Work began in January and is expected to take about a year to complete, said Scott Storz, Naval Air Station Museum special-projects manager. Having the building on the museum’s main site will make it easier for the group to display its large and ever-growing collection of military memorabilia.

“We’ll have so much more space to display [exhibits] properly,” said Storz. ”People have been bringing stuff to us, and I have to explain to them, we’re putting it in storage, you won’t be able to see it right away. But this is a blank slate for us.”

About 15 volunteers began work over the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend in January, stripping the roughly 1,600-square-foot building to its steel skeleton.

The speed of their work impressed somewhat-skeptical city officials, volunteer Don Rowlee, a former Navy Seabee, said.

Seabee is a nickname for a member of a U.S. Navy construction battalion.

“They were concerned that they’d bring a dumpster out here and leave it, and it’d sit here half the summer and have people throwing trash in it,” he said. “I said, ‘No, we’ll get it stripped out; just bring the dumpster.’ We loaded the dumpster, and three days later, the dumpster was gone.”

Volunteers have since removed the building’s windows, doors, wooden interior structure and siding.

“We are gonna recycle everything that’s possible to recycle,” Storz said. “A lot of the wood went to people during the cold spell, for their fireplaces.”

Once its structure is moved to its new home, the building will receive all-new windows, doors and siding, thanks to a generous donation from Ron Herman of All Quality Products.

A $10,000 donation from the Rotary Club of DeLand is also helping the project along. The club donated the funds last year in honor of longtime Rotary member Ellwood Titcomb, who served as the museum’s first president.

Tom Bechtol of Bechtol Engineering also donated engineering work, Storz said.

The city — which owns the building — is helping the group by providing some heavy equipment where needed, but the bulk of the work is being done by Naval Air Station Museum volunteers.

“It’s our building. It’s been an annex for the museum, but I’m about to lay a ramp here for aircraft,” said John Eiff, the city’s airport manager. “And this is in the way. So, we’re assisting them.”

When complete, in addition to more space to display exhibits to the public, the building will house office space for the museum. ADA-compliant bathrooms will be built on the outside of the building, as well.

For more information on the museum, and information on how to donate to the project or the group’s other efforts, visit www.delandnavalairmuseum.org.

— Anthony DeFeo, anthony@beacononlinenews.com

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