U.S. Naval Air Station, Coal Shed, 499 South Avenue, Pensacola, Escambia County, FL
Significance: Building No. 27, constructed as a Coal House at the Pensacola Navy Yard in 1872, served vital mission-support roles at both the navy yard and, later, at NAS Pensacola. Its original purpose was to store huge amounts of coal to fuel the steam-driven engines of naval vessels, which were supplied via a long wharf providing direct access from the Coal House to Pensacola Bay. The brick building also stored coal for powering the navy yard's machinery. The ability to safely store more than a year's worth of coal at the yard protected the Navy from sudden shortage or price increases that could cripple the yard and the naval squadrons depend upon its resources. Prior to the closure of the yard in 1911, Building No. 27 stored lumber, while coal was kept in open bins near the wharf. After the Pensacola Navy Yard's closure in 1911 and the establishment of Naval Aeronautical Station Pensacola in 1914, the former Coal House was adapted to the new aeronautic mission of the station by conversion to a hangar for seaplanes and other early aircraft. During World War II, the building housed offices, workshops, and headquarters for aircraft squadrons, and later supported aviation operations as a workshop and storehouse until 1971, when the building house the station's commissary warehouse and related office. Building No. 27 supported NAS Pensacola operations in the 1980s and 1990s as office and administrative space, as well as an addiction treatment center. It later served a a photo lab and studio for the NAS Pensacola PAO and storage for the USAF water survival equipment. Despite interior and exterior changes made over the years to accommodate its changing missions, the building remained an excellent example of late nineteenth century industrial architecture, typical of other brick buildings constructed at the Pensacola Navy Yard. In 2004, Building No. 27 was seriously damaged during Hurricane Ivan, resulting in disuse.
Building No. 27 is an excellent example of the industrial buildings in use at the Pensacola Navy Yard and other military installations in the mid-nineteenth century. With its symmetrical form, engaged pilasters and brick cornice, it is similar in feeling to other utilitarian buildings at the heart of the old navy yard, including Building No. 1, Building No. 38, and Building No. 18. Building No. 27 is included within the Pensacola Naval Air Station Historic District.
Survey number: HABS FL-247
Building/structure dates: 1872 Initial Construction
National Register of Historic Places NRIS Number: 76000595