Preserving Black History in the Military, at the "Colored Officers Club"

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ORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. — The door to the tumbledown clapboard building, the one with the “Off Limits” sign, creaks open, and Harlan Bradford’s flashlight beam cuts through the shadows inside.

Now in the spotlight, bat droppings on the floor. Up above, drop-ceiling railings dangle like stalactites. A stage curtain in tatters hints at the shows, the many shows that once rocked this place, the former Mountain View Colored Officers Club.

“You can see and hear them and imagine everyone having a good time,” said Mr. Bradford, a retired Army man himself, glancing around at the exposed walls, the boarded-up windows, the dust. “Lena Horne sang here. Joe Louis did exhibition fights out here. There was nothing like it.”

It was, a report for the Army Corps of Engineers said, the only club built expressly for black officers during the days of segregation in the military. Other installations converted buildings for black officers and enlisted men, but the Mountain View club, it said, was the only such club built from the ground up.

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