Historic homes at former US air base in Clark to become heritage site

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Clark
One of the historic barn houses at Clark. Picture courtesy of the CDC public affairs office.

Barn homes, built by the US military in 1904 for officers at Clark are to be recognised as part of the former air base’s heritage.

Seventeen of the distinctive buildings stand along Cardinal Rufino Santos Avenue, formerly known as Officers Row.

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Officials of the Clark Development Corp. (CDC) said they would ask the National Historical Commission to declare the barn houses and other nearby structures as a heritage site.

“We plan to make this area the arts and cultural district of Clark Freeport,” said CDC president Noel Manankil. He added that a master plan for the district was now being drafted.

According to An Annotated Pictorial History of Clark Air Base: 1899-1986 by David Rosmer, the American military began constructing the barn houses in 1903 at the Fort Stotsenburg side of the Clark base.

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Japanese commanders also took up residence in the units, officially designated as ‘Building 2080’,  during World War II.

Over the years, some of the houses have been used as restaurants, an airline office, a Korean church, a day care centre, a gymnasium and as the CDC’s public affairs office.

Describing the buildings, Mr Rosmer wrote: “The original cost per house was $1,309. The distinctive construction allowed cooling breezes to pass under the raised floor and through the wide, screened verandas, while the steep, metal roofs dissipated trapped heat and allowed a rapid runoff of the heavy rains.

“All flooring was made from Oregon pine, imported to the Philippines. The huge trees shading the houses are acacia and were planted at the time of construction. Old photographs show that the acacia trees had reached full maturity by 1938.” 

The historian added that he backed the move to preserve the buildings. “On the opposite side of the parade ground were large open areas surrounding troop barracks, blacksmith shops, house corrals and stables,” he said.

“Taken as a whole, these buildings serve as one of the best preserved examples of US military tropical construction.”

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