Feb 24, 2023 - News

Fort Huachuca will save officers' club used by Black soldiers during WWII

A long building in the middle of the desert.

The Mountain View Officers' Club at Fort Huachuca in 1943. Photo: Courtesy of Fort Huachuca Museum Archives

Fort Huachuca announced Thursday it will rehabilitate a building that served as the Black officers' club at the southern Arizona Army installation during World War II.

  • The Mountain View Officers' Club was previously slated for demolition and sat empty for over two decades.

What's happening: Fort Huachuca leaders signed an agreement last month to transform the building into a Range Operations Synchronization Center.

  • The rehabilitation plan also calls for an exhibit chronicling the Black World War II military experience, according to a press release.

Why it matters: The clubhouse was placed on the National Register for its historically significant connection with Army segregation policies.

  • Only one other Black officer's club dating back to World War II, Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, is still standing.

Flashback: The building was constructed in 1942 by Del Webb — the famous Arizona developer known for designing Sun City.

  • It was part of a large-scale building effort at the military installation to house troops from the all-Black 92nd and 93rd Infantry Divisions, according to the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation.
  • From 1892-1946, Fort Huachuca had the most Black soldiers of any military installation nationwide, according to the African American Cultural Heritage Fund.
  • More than 30,000 Black soldiers trained at Fort Huachuca between 1941-1945, before they were deployed to the European Theater, per the Army.

How it worked: Mountain View Officers' Club was a duplicate of the Lakeside Officers’ Club for white soldiers at the fort.

  • It was the social and recreational hub for Black soldiers. Art shows, concerts, plays and other performances were held there.
  • "The black officers really weren't happy about having a separate club," Army garrison spokesperson Tanja Linton told The Arizona Daily Star in 2019.

After the war and 1948 racial integration of the military, the building was converted into a performing arts theater and used for entertainment purposes until 1998.

  • The Army had planned to bulldoze it shortly thereafter but was met with pushback from preservationists and has been working with those groups on a long-term solution since 2011.

What's next: Fort Huachuca has submitted the project for Army funding consideration and plans to begin rehabilitation soon.

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