Adrian Wilson and Paul R. Williams Administration Building, Roosevelt naval Base, 1941–42. Photo by Louise Ivers
By Peter Devereaux
Every spring for the past ten years sizable grants have been donated to various organizations in Long Beach for historic preservation projects- all told over $2,000,000. Where does the money come from and why is it given to preservation? The Long Beach Navy Memorial Heritage Association – the “Navy Trust” – was established when the Port of Long Beach was persuaded to compensate the people of Long Beach for the loss of the United States Naval Station, originally called Roosevelt Base.
Those who still remember that campus on Terminal Island, designed by Adrian Wilson and the African American “architect to the stars,” Paul Williams, know what an outstandingly beautiful place it was. It was anchored at one end by the Administration Building with its striking tower and at the other end by the recreation complex. Along the flanks were such facilities as the swimming pool, the bowling alley, the navy legal building and the fleet landing, all fine examples of the International Style of architecture. At the far west end was the Allen Center Officers Club, which hosted many family events, weddings, and the like. Trees were abundant, principally towering olives at one end and ficus at the other. The latter were the nesting place for the largest colony of black-crowned night herons in Southern California. The fleet landing, where many sailors said goodbye to their loved ones, never to return, reminded the community of values beyond grounds and buildings.