Eshoo 'disturbed' by plan to demolish cork room
Navy set to raze historic Hangar One structure
In a terse letter to U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo says she is "disturbed" by news reports about the planned demolition of the unique "cork room" inside Moffett Field's Hangar One, and she asks pointed questions about why the Navy is set to destroy the historic structure.
As reported in the Voice June 18 , preservationists are scrambling to preserve the unique room inside Moffett Field's massive black and white landmark. In the early 1930s the cork room provided a controlled environment to store and maintain the helium gas cells used inside the U.S.S. Macon, the massive airship for which Hangar One was built. It gets its name from the six-inch-thick cork insulation in its walls. The Navy plans to dispose of it in August, along with most of the hangar's interior.
In the letter, Eshoo points out that the cork room is "perhaps the only room left of this kind in the country."
She re-iterates comments from Carl Honaker, the last chief executive officer at Moffett Field before it ceased to be a Naval base, who said, "In my opinion, the cork room is the most significant historical artifact in the hangar. It's the only physical evidence of the lighter-than-air era. Which was the purpose for constructing the hangar in the first place."
Eshoo asks pointed questions about the plan to destroy the cork room, including how much it would cost to preserve it and how much it would cost to demolish.
"Do you have the technical ability to remediate and preserve the cork room?" she asks. "How are you deciding what to preserve?" How much of your overall remediation funds are dedicated to the preservation of historic artifacts and how did you determine that amount?"
The cork room used a swamp cooler system to control humidity and temperature. A movable overhead rack was used to hang the Macon's gas cells, which were shaped like 55-gallon drums. The airship used hundreds of them to stay aloft.
The Navy prepares to strip the massive Hangar One of its asbestos siding in December and leave behind a bare skeletal frame with no plan to replace the siding. Eshoo also opposes that plan, as does nearly every elected official in the region.