Building Index – Building 349

Building 349

200 N. Rampart Way
Denver, CO 80230
[GPS N39°43.315 x W104°53.970]

The 1940 Brick Barracks Building at Lowry Air Force Base was the product of a significant shift in national military policy during the late 1930s as the Roosevelt administration increased American air power to counter rising global tensions and militarism. With Germany’s aggressive expansion in Europe and Japan’s extension of its area of occupation in the Pacific presenting a very real threat to world peace by the late 1930s, Washington determined that an increase in the number of trained US military airmen was necessary for the defense of the nation and its interests abroad. As the number of enlisted personnel rose substantially throughout 1939, plans for the Brick Barracks Building had to be changed several times before it was completed in late 1940, in order to accommodate the rapid influx of airmen assigned to Lowry Field’s Air Corps Training School. Throughout the course of the war, thousands of men were housed in this building while they received training in aerial bombardment, gunnery, aerial photography, and reconnaissance techniques. Their training was then put into practice over Europe and the islands of the Pacific from 1941 through 1945, contributing greatly to the Allies’ ultimate defeat of Germany and Japan.

“Not the Ambassador Hotel of Los Angeles, but the home of the 21st Air Base Group of Lowry Field is the gigantic Army barracks pictured above. Twenty-one different organizations are housed there at present, and complete facilities are provided in the building for some 1,800 enlisted men. Adequate day-rooms are furnished the squadrons, and in addition a library, bowling alley, barber shops, tailor shop, and portrait studio are available to the soldiers. Mess No. 1, a modern up-to-date kitchen, is part of the building providing a serviceable convenience to enlisted men.” [Source: “The Lowry Field Rev-Meter, 29 May 1942, Pg. 14)

For more than five decades, the monumental Brick Barracks Building has served as an important component of a major training facility established by the US Army Air Corps in 1937. Originally referred to as the Denver Branch of the Air Corps Technical School (ACTS), the facility was renamed Lowry Field in 1938 and then Lowry Air Force Base in 1948. Completed late in 1940, the Brick Barracks Building’s function has evolved along with the changing mission of this once vital military base.

Additional entertainment was made available to members of the military in 1941 when the Post Exchange installed a 4-lane bowling alley in the basement of the Brick Barracks!

For its final role, in 1961 the Brick Barracks Building shifted to a new and important use. On July 7 of that year, the Lowry Technical Training Center’s Headquarters was moved from the deteriorating large Mission-style former Phipps Sanatorium building (which was later demolished) into the newer Brick Barracks. For this reason, the building is commonly known in the Denver area today as the Headquarters Building, rather than as the Brick Barracks. The final 33 years of Lowry Technical Training Center’s operations were marked by numerous changes in mission, including the training of airmen for the Vietnam War, training of personnel for maintenance of high-tech military equipment, the housing and retraining of airmen convicted by court-martial of non-violent infractions of military law, the installation and operation of Titan missile silos on the former bombing range in 1962, and aerospace and intelligence instruction through the 1990s. With air traffic becoming a hazard to area residents, flying activity was terminated at the base in 1966 due to its envelopment by growing Denver and Aurora. The Brick Barracks continued to serve as the Headquarters of the Lowry Technical Training Center until final closure of the base occurred in 1994. [Source: Extract; National Register of Historic Places]

#1. What was to become Building 349 had its foundation prepared by WPA workers during the summer of 1939.
#2. The Construction Division, Office of the Quartermaster General, contracted with Mead & Mount Construction Company to build the new barracks following the completion of its foundation by the WPA. In mid-September Mead & Mount was awarded an additional contract for the erection of four additional wings to the building at a cost of $512,000.
#3. Building 349 being erected in the shadows of the Phipps Sanatorium in the background. The Phipps Sanatorium power plant’s tall chimney can be seen in the upper-right area of the photo.
#4. An aerial view of Building 349’s construction site, circa 1940.
#5. By early September, 1940, Lt. Col. Carl Jabelonsky, Construction Quartermaster, announced that “construction work on numerous major building contracts at Lowry Field was proceeding rapidly and ahead of schedule.” The giant barracks, the growing cost of which was expected to exceed $2,000,000, was nearing completion well in advance of the December 28th deadline set by contract.
#6. Lowry Field had been transformed into one of the Air Corps’ major installations with plans calling for a permanent garrison of 150 officers and from six to seven thousand enlisted men, in addition to groups of temporarily assigned students undergoing technical training. In August and September of 1940, as Lowry’s Brick Barracks was nearing completion…the Battle of Britain was raging over the English Channel and southern England. Shown here are the parade grounds in front of Building 349.
#7. The Brick Barracks were completed and formally accepted on 7 October, 1940 when 3,200 airmen and students vacated the Tent City and other temporary barracks on the base and moved into the enormous building ahead of schedule. The number of men quartered in the building far exceeded the original specifications for an 1,800-man barracks, reflecting the urgency of the housing problem at Lowry Field. Commanding Officer Jacob Rudolph described the barracks as “one of the largest and finest barracks buildings ever constructed for troops of the U. S. Army,” and by the airmen as “Buckingham Palace.
#8. The four-story building with large three story wings contained squad rooms for sleeping as well as a modern mess hall capable of serving 600 men at a time. In addition, the Brick Barracks was equipped with a bakery, bowling alley, laundry and dry cleaning facilities, barber shops, Post Exchange, and recreation rooms. Alterations to the building included the installation of centralized post, technical, and intelligence libraries in the north wing basement, as well as enlargement of the bowling alleys within the structure.
#9. In 1961 the Brick Barracks Building shifted to a new and important use. On 7 July 1961 Lowry Technical Training Center’s Headquarters was moved from the deteriorating Mission-style former Sanatorium building (which was later demolished) into the Brick Barracks. For this reason the building is commonly known in the Denver area as the “Headquarters Building,” rather than as the Brick Barracks. The Brick Barracks continued to serve as Lowry Technical Training Center’s headquarters until final base closure in 1994.
#10. Building 349’s Accounting and Finance Office.
#11. Building 349’s Personnel Records Section was kept busy with the influx of thousands of airmen over the years, including the permanent station and student populations of Lowry Field/AFB.
#12. Building 349’s Cafeteria, where those assigned to Lowry could grab a meal or snack.
#13. Building 349’s Cafeteria seating area.
#14. The Lofts represent the re-purposed use of the historic Brick Barracks/Lowry Air Force Base Headquarters building. After base closure it was renovated into 261 roomy new loft units, many with very high ceilings. “Grand Lowry Lofts” is the largest building at Lowry. The blond brick barracks has a grand Spanish Baroque entry portico; the circular driveway was the east end of what had been the Parade Grounds.