Yes, the Army built several bases in the area to protect Philadelphia against a potential attack by the Soviet Union. “The fear was that they could knock out our cities and defense before we could respond,” James Heinzen, a history professor at Rowan University, told Military.com. “It was this whole cycle that was endless.”
This 33-acre base in Woolwich Township was abandoned by the Army in 1974 and has sat vacant there for decades. It still features a pump house, officer and soldiers quarters, radio towers, several buildings and sheds, and an empty swimming pool. But, the most interesting part has to be the missile vaults 30 feet below ground.
Although the property doesn’t have an official historic designation, it did play a role in the arms race. President Lyndon B. Johnson and Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin chatted about the site during a two-day summit in 1967. After 10 hours of discussions, tensions were dissipated between the countries.
“They gave up the idea that anybody was going to be able to shoot down any of these missiles,” Heinzen said. “It didn’t make any sense.”
While the township has been interested in selling the site for years, it was listed just last week for $1.8 million. The hope is that the area could be transformed into a public and business space. A proposal submitted last week showed it being used for restaurants, offices, breweries, and a recreational park. A historical theme was also suggested in the proposal. And all of this would be within walking distance of over 3,000 homes.
“It would really be a good fit for the community,” said Jane Asselta, Vice President of the Southern NJ Development Council. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there were several bids on it.”