President Jackson proposes legislation to repair Loring Arch Hangar

AUGUSTA – On Tuesday, Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, introduced legislation in an effort to preserve and repair the historic Loring Arch Hangar at the former Air Force base in Limestone. LD 1998, “An Act to Transfer the Arch Hangar at the Former Loring Air Force Base to the Loring Air Museum,” proposes transferring the ownership of the rapidly deteriorating Arch Hangar to a local nonprofit in an effort to secure grants and prevent the building from falling into a state of disrepair. 

The proposal received a public hearing before the Legislature’s Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business Committee.

“The Loring Arch Hangar was once a symbol of engineering excellence and something that brought great pride to Aroostook County. However, since the 1994 closure of the Loring Air Force Base, the condition of the historic building rapidly deteriorated,” said President Jackson. “By transferring the ownership of the Arch Hangar to the Loring Air Museum, we can put the building on the National Historic Registry – where it belongs – and secure critical grants to make the appropriate repairs. The failure to act now will only jeopardize its future.”

Construction on the Loring Arch Hangar was completed in 1949. At the time, it was the largest arch roof structure in the entire country, capable of maintaining two B-36 bombers. The building was the first structure specifically built as part of the U.S. Strategic Air Command’s “mission of deterring the enemy through retaliatory strike capability.”

“The Arch Hanger at the Loring Air Force Base is an astonishing landmark recognized by visitors familiar with or curious about its history. In recent years, the Limestone Snowhawks (local snowmobile club) have groomed trail access to the Arch Hanger. It is said by one individual that an estimated 4-6,000 snowmobiles travel to the site each winter,” said Jacob Pelkey, Aroostook County Tourism. “The site has grown to be one of the most popular snowmobile destinations in Aroostook County and travel to the landmark is a focal point of marketing the winter experience of The County for promotional campaigns such as ‘Come North.’ and ‘Maine’s Best Winter.’” 

“The built environment of the Loring AFB was reviewed for National Register of Historic Places eligibility in the early 1990s because of base closure and redevelopment. At that time, the arch hanger was determined to be eligible for listing in the National Register. Unless there have been significant changes to the character defining features of the building that status still applies,” said Michael Gobel-Bain, Historic Preservation Coordinator, National Register of Historic Places“Eligibility for and/or listing in the National Register is necessary to apply to many historic preservation funding sources.”

LD 1998 will be the subject of additional work sessions in the committee.

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