Naval Research Laboratory - Washington DC
The Naval Research Laboratory has been a major research facility for the US Navy and military since it was founded at the instigation of Thomas Edison in 1923. It is located along the Potomac River at the southern tip of the District of Columbia.
In 1937, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) carried out repairs and made additions to the US Naval Research Laboratory. Principle among these was a large addition to the field house. The WPA teams also added roads, sewers and storm drains, and landscaping.
Navy Bulletin No. 38 provides more specifics: “At the Naval Research Laboratory, Bellevue, D. C., the major part of the sums available in the fiscal year 1936 was expended in connection with new road work, the remainder was devoted to repairs to existing structures, with many minor improvements. Under the act of 1936 a large addition was built to the existing field house. The addition is of reinforced concrete construction built to accommodate radio transmitter testing apparatus…. The balance of the work at this station included the building of additional sewer facilities, the construction of a storm sewer, extension of roads, improvement of rifle range, back-filling, and landscaping.”
As with the US Navy Yard, the PWA allotted $861,000 in 1935 for flood damage repairs to several naval facilities in the District, including damage repairs to the Naval Research Laboratory’s “electrical equipment and electric distribution systems.” (Navy, Bulletin # 39, pp. 70-71).
It is unknown to us if those improvements are still standing, but the Field House looks to be present in the aerial photo from Google Earth.
National Archives Record Group 69-N.
U.S. Navy, Public Works of the Navy, Bulletin No. 38, May 1937, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1937, p. 46 (Hathitrust, accessed May 29, 2021).
U.S. Navy, Public Works of the Navy, Bulletin No. 39, June 1937, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1937, pp. 45 and 70-71 (Hathitrust, accessed May 29, 2021).
Project originally submitted by Brent McKee on February 19, 2020.
Additional contributions by Richard Walker.
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