Ohio’s WWII Code-Breaking Building to Be Torn Down

Mon July 02, 2007 - Midwest Edition

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) The University of Dayton is going ahead with plans to tear down a building that housed a top-secret code-breaking laboratory during World War II, the school said June 12 in rejecting appeals from preservationists who wanted the building saved.

Between 1942 and 1945, NCR Building 26 was used by the Navy as a laboratory for designing and building sophisticated code-breaking machines, including the NCR Bombe, credited with helping crack German U-boat codes.

Preservationists had urged that the building be spared.

On June 1, the preservation office of the Ohio Historical Society issued a report saying the building didn’t appear to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places because it had been altered heavily over the years. However, the office said it is the only remaining physical link to certain important historical events and that the university should consider alternatives to demolition.

University spokeswoman Teri Rizvi said the school considered alternatives — spending nearly two years studying the building, meeting with preservationists and getting public input.

“It just didn’t make economic sense. How much money do you put in a building that has lost its historical integrity?” she said. “But we think preserving the story is of essence. And that’s what we’re committed to doing.”

The private, Roman Catholic school will tear down the building this fall. It plans to salvage original bricks and other parts of the building to help commemorate the site. A collection of oral histories, public art, a plaza or museum-style display are under consideration.