On the cusp of its 100th birthday, Hangar 9 at Brooks City Base is poised to open a new chapter of its storied life.
Long since retired from the important work of housing “Jenny” aircrafts during World War I, the historic wooden hangar will soon embrace a new role as an event space hosting weddings, quinceañeras, and more.
The public is invited to come see the lovingly restored hangar at a special ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, March 24 at 5 pm at 8081 Inner Circle Rd.
“There’s something special about this building,” said Leo Gomez, president & CEO of Brooks. “When you are standing in the open space, it’s not hard to imagine the old biplanes and the aviators in their goggles and leather helmets. Our intent with the restoration project was to find a way for the whole community to enjoy this space. We want folks to make new memories here that will endure for generations to come.”
Built in 1918, Hangar 9 is the oldest wooden aircraft hangar of its kind still standing in the original location. Many hangars of its type were constructed as temporary facilities as the United States entered World War I. Around 8,700 sq. ft. and 30 feet tall, the hangars were designed by noted industrial architect Albert Kahn to allow up to eight Curtiss JN-4 “Jenny” aircrafts to be housed at one time.
Hangar 9 was one of 16 structures arranged in a crescent-shaped hangar row at Brooks Field, so named for Sidney J. Brooks Jr., the first San Antonio native to die in a World War I aviation-related accident.
Saved from demolition in the late 1960s and restored through the efforts of the San Antonio community and the U.S. Air Force, Hangar 9 has served as an aviation, aerospace, and aeromedical museum. It was formerly dedicated to San Antonio native and NASA astronaut Edward H. White II, the first American to walk in space and who lost his life in the Apollo I capsule fire.
As the only surviving hangar from World War I, Hangar 9 is a rare and special tribute to the men and women who served in the Great War. It is a San Antonio Historic Landmark, a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, and is listed in the Texas State Historical Survey and the National Register of Historic Places
Restoring the all-wooden hangar took approximately one year and $2.8 million, including foundation and structural repairs, electrical upgrades, installation of new windows and doors, painting and siding replacement, new paving and landscaping, and accessibility improvements.
Hangar 9’s rebirth complements a recently completed $560,000 project to restore the Sidney Brooks gravesite and memorial. The upgraded memorial provides visitors easier access and creates an open-air gathering place with seating and lighting. Together, the gravesite, memorial, and adjacent Hangar 9 building comprise the historic heart of the century-old campus.
Like Hangar 9, the entire Brooks campus carved out a new life for itself after military operations officially ceased in 2011. With a mission to make Brooks an economic engine for the Southside, the former Air Force base opened its doors to developers and employers who could bring high-paying jobs and a great quality of life.
Today, Brooks is a vibrant, mixed-use community of 1,300 acres where people live, work, learn, and play. More than 3,000 people work at the 32 businesses that call Brooks home, including Mission Solar, Mission Trail Baptist Hospital, DPT Laboratories, VMC, Bridge PTS, the City/County Emergency Operations Center, the Brooks Academy of Science and Engineering Charter School, several market-rate apartment communities, and a variety of restaurants and retail stores.
For more information on the Hangar 9 grand opening festivities, please call 210-678-3300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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