The spider building: A not-so-spooky look into Peterson’s History

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Building 880 housed the 6th Photographic Squadron when it was newly completed in 1942.
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Building 880 housed the 6th Photographic Squadron when it was newly completed in 1942.

By Philip Carter

21st Space Wing Public Affairs

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  —  Airmen stationed at Peterson Air Force Base before 2010 might remember an odd shaped building right across the street from the 21st Space Wing, now just an empty lot. Because of building 880’s unusual shape, it was nicknamed the spider building.

This year is the 75th anniversary of Peterson AFB and building 880 was here for most of it, housing a variety of tenants with quite a few unique missions from 1942 until 2010. Building 880 was part of the initial building of the base in 1942 and was completed in 1943.

The spider building was built for a very specialized unit called the 6th Photographic Squadron. This squadron used aerial photography to produce accurate charts and detailed maps of uncharted areas for the military. Some included maps of landing beaches and areas held by enemy forces during World War II.

The mission of the 6th PS had a large impact. Just prior to their move to Colorado Springs, they produced the maps for the Jimmy Doolittle Raid on Tokyo.

After the war, the city of Colorado Springs took back control of the base and building 880 was leased to a local chicken farmer. They may have also raised turkeys because for a long time people referred to it as the turkey farm, according to documents obtained from David “Doc” Bullock, 21st Space Wing historian.

“Peterson Field became pretty active again in 1951 when Ent Air Force Base was activated,” said Jeffrey Nash, Peterson Air and Space Museum assistant director. “When the (Army) Air Defense Command was stood up, Peterson became a support field to Ent AFB.”

Peterson again took control of building 880 and converted it into a dormitory for the ARADOM’s personnel and it remained a dormitory until the early 1970s.

Civil engineering used the building for a short time, and then it was turned over to Morale, Welfare and Recreation, and non-appropriated funds.

Security forces was given a wing of the building to use as a correctional custody facility for Airman who got themselves in trouble or maybe were just having a tough time adapting to the military.

In more recent years, the building started to be used by many different organizations, including:

• Canadian forces

• 21st Services

• Army and Air Force Exchange Service

• Social Actions

• Child Development Center

• Base Package Liquor Store.

Building 880 was torn down in 2010, but from the 6th PS, a turkey farm, and the child development center, this little building had quite an impact on the mission at Peterson AFB.

Editor’s Note: This the first in a series about Peterson Air Force Base’s history in regards to the celebration of its 75th anniversary.