I was working on a before and after submission for a publication when it occurred to me that I had never written about this project here. How did that happen?
Several years ago I was approached by the wing commander at Maxwell Air Force Base about handling the renovation of the Officers’ Club. It was a fabulous project because he, Colonel Pete Costello, was passionate about design and wanted to bring the badly run-down club back to its 1920’s glory days. It was the most challenging project of my entire career for many reasons, chief among them:
the time line. Maxwell had just learned that they would be hosting, for the first time, Corona , the most important strategy event of all in the military. Top brass from all branches the world over would be attending. We had 6 weeks to completely renovated the club.
Throw in the next wrinkle,
it was Christmas and all of the factories that I needed to use were about to close for 2 weeks for inventory.
Throw in the next wrinkle,
I could not bring any of my own sub-contractors in. We had to use the “talent” available through the federal penitentiary that is housed at Maxwell.
After hyperventilating Jeff and I attacked the project with gusto. This phase involved the upstairs bar and a multi-purpose room that was to look like a gentleman’s cigar club. I am going to show a couple of pictures of those projects then concentrate on the real bugger boo that came as phase II, The Pit. It ain’t called the pit for nuthin! Phew. That placed smelled to high heaven. It is located in the basement and is the hang-out for the younger crowd. Let’s just say it needed a lot of TLC.
This is the actual globe used to plan WWII.
This is where it pays to have friends. Custer Mayo from Mayo Wholesale in Atlanta got one of his suppliers to shut their plant down for two weeks and do nothing but my job in order to make this happen.
We sent trucks from Montgomery to North Carolina to pick everything up and drive all night to get it back to me.
In the process of setting this room up I discovered that one of my “helpers” was an incredible jazz musician who used to play all of the clubs in New Orleans. I asked him to play the piano for me while we waited for the next load to arrive. My mouth was hanging open. He could play anything. I digress.
Now, for The Pit.
Everything in this bar was inspired by vintage military airplanes. They are etched into the glass doors behind the bar.The bar stools and table designs are based on prop propellers and the bar itself is shaped like giant wings and nose cone. The beer taps are in the cone and as you step up to it to order you are looking down the long gleaning stainless span of a “wing”.
I loved the artwork. We dug through hundreds of old archived photos of celebs visiting the troops and blew them up for giant black and white statement pieces.
That’s the closest I will ever get to Bob Hope and the gang.
Sandra Kobelia, wherever you are now, I raise a toast. You were the best. #wouldn’thavehappenedwithoutthatgirl!
What a fun,
JK. …. sort of.