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Outreach project supports effort to add aviation site to national list of historic places
David Ames, director of UD’s Center for Historic Architecture and Design, prepares to photograph the interior support trusses of the Bellanca airplane hangar in New Castle. Photo by Duane Perry

2:20 p.m., July 3, 2003--David Ames, director of UD’s Center for Historical Architecture and Design (CHAD), has spent much of his career photographing and documenting historic buildings. Since the 1980s, CHAD faculty, staff and students have drawn, photographed and researched more than 3,000 buildings and landscapes from the industrial complexes of northern Delaware to the agricultural buildings and landscapes of southern Delaware, as well as historic resources elsewhere in the Mid-Atlantic. The original documentary materials are maintained at CHAD.

Recently, Ames photographed an airplane hangar at Bellanca Field, located on Route 273 in New Castle, which a group of concerned Delawareans is trying to preserve and have listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Bellanca airplane hangar’s wooden truss system was designed to support a huge interior space. Photo by David Ames

“This was an outreach project of the center,” Ames said. “The hangar was built in 1927 and replaced in 1934 after a fire. It was used to house private planes and later served as a finishing shop for Bellanca Aircraft Corp. in the larger manufacturing complex there, which built more than 3,000 planes at the site. It is a part of Delaware aviation history.

“The interesting part of the building from a structural point of view is its interior wooden truss system, designed to support the huge interior space,” he said.

This is not the first time Ames has been called upon to help in the documentation of structures associated with aviation. In 1996, he gave a series of workshops in Dover to persons from Air Force bases all over the country about documenting and photographing historic structures associated with the Air Force.

Joe Monigle is heading a group of citizens who are working with New Castle’s Trustees of the Commons Property Development Committee, chaired by Lew Indellini to preserve the Bellanca hangar. The building was formerly used for manufacturing, and the group is seeking a new use for the structure.

For more information about the efforts to save the Bellanca Hangar, contact Monigle at 322-3816 or Indellini at 322-2809. For more information about CHAD, go to [www.udel.edu/CHAD].

Article by Sue Moncure

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