Then & Now
After a hard push for funding and volunteer work, the John T Brinkman Club has been finished! In the 15 years since the foundation has been operating, this building has been a crucial piece of the base preservation and provides a new home for the museum and a place for the community to host events. Completing this project is due to several generous sponsors and volunteer support, and hard work!
$32,000 original construction cost in 1943
16,461 square feet
24 broken windows prior to restoration
On a warm summer day in 2005, the Wendover Airfield Foundation made our first inspection of this service club. It was a disheartening inspection, not one of the more than 2 dozen windows was unbroken or completely missing and boarded up. There was garbage strewn across every room and included an old engine block and a non-descript 55-gallon barrel of, well, we were not quite sure of what! Walking through the dimly lit rooms and storage areas there was a heavy sad feeling and one almost expected to run into a malevolent spirit wanting solitude. So, we rolled up our sleeves and started planning.
Funding of course was critical and for a few years, we were able to do nothing more than clean up. Generous donors and volunteers came forward and work began in earnest in 2010. VCBO Architects kicked off the restoration by donating time to provide initial architectural drawings of the building. With some of the original drawings, we were able to remove walls and reconfigure door locations to match the original plans. Dumpster after dumpster was filled and removed as we did the demolition. Kudos to the Salt Lake Chapter of the EAA and more especially to the ladies and wives of the EAA members – they shoveled out the pigeon nests and poop! As funds were donated and hundreds of hours were completed the project progressed. The unusable dance floor in the two-story entertainment hall of the club needed to be removed and replaced.. Navy Seabee and other volunteers pulled up the old 1×4 boards and cleaned and prepared the subsurface wood. Once this was done new sheeting was installed. During the restoration, some of the original descriptions were found and the floor was originally tiled with a red and white checkerboard pattern around the outside edges and the main part of the floor was a wooden dance floor. This original design was kept but the wooden floor was replaced with a long-lasting and durable material. It is now ready for a USO dance!
As the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning were being installed, walls were being sheetrocked and scaffolding was everywhere as the material was measured, cut, and installed, some of it donated at a reduced cost to the project. With the complex wooden truss system of the roof, it was a challenge at times. Up and down the scaffolding with measuring tapes in hand workers applied the old adage of “measure twice cut once”. It was great to see the work being done and with only one or two colorful adjectives it all came together.
In the restrooms, the plumbing has been upgraded to meet modern codes while allowing the building to retain the authentic look and exterior fixtures. Tile was installed that matches the time period and provides a lasting good looking finish. All the fixtures were installed and vintage lights provide a great finished look. The kitchen has been restored with modern cooking equipment and is able to serve guests in a variety of capacities.
Perhaps the centerpiece of the building is the club bar. Beautifully rebuilt and installed by volunteer John Hellyer, it can host at least a dozen guests at a time. As you stand up to the bar it seems as if a host of young men from a bygone time should stand there with you and toast the freedoms we are able to enjoy. To complete the look the museum is looking for memorabilia that would be suitable to mount and display on the wall behind the bar in high military tradition. We have a few items already donated and ready to go but are happy to hear from you if there you have a worthy item for the wall of honor.