Building Index – Building 880
1016 Boston Street
[GPS N39°43’47.69″, W104°52’40.65”]
The Commandant of Cadets Building (Building880) has a national level of significance under Criterion A in the area of Military as the most intact remaining resource associated with the original site of the United States Air Force Academy at Lowry Air Force Base during 1955-58. While the permanent home of the Air Force Academy was under construction north of Colorado Springs, a portion of Lowry in Aurora, Colorado, served as its interim home for the first three classes of cadets. Dedication of the school in July 1955 marked the first creation of a major military academy in the country since 1845. Founding of the Academy followed the designation of the U.S .Air Force as a separate branch of the military in 1947 and marked recognition of the importance of air power in the Cold War era.
Housed in refurbished World War II era frame buildings, the first three classes at the new institution began their education at Lowry Air Force Base. Young lieutenants known as “Air Training Officers” served as upperclassmen (Air Training Officers) through the summer of 1957. While at Lowry, many of the fundamental traditions of the “West Point o f the Air” were inaugurated, including a cadet honor code and class system, adherence to rigorous academic standards, adoption of the falcon mascot, and participation in intercollegiate athletics. President Eisenhower wrote of the importance of the Academy’s pioneer class in influencing the direction of the institution: “The standards of intellect, obedience and leadership which have been established by the Class of 1959 will bear strongly upon the growth of future tradition.”
The survival of Building 880 as a representative of the Academy at Lowry AFB is particularly fitting, as it housed the Commandant of Cadets, who was responsible for airmanship, military, and physical training, including the development of such traits as leadership, character, and ethics that would mold the cadets into Air Force officers. Maj. Gen. Harold W. “Pete” Todd (retired), a member of the first graduating class, observed that the Commandant’s building was “the Citadel of Honor, the place where the true core of the Air Force Academy lay,” which uniquely embodied “the essence of the training in character, discipline, and integrity at the fledgling Academy.”