• Bakery once considered essential to post

  • In the 19th and 20th centuries, the mess sergeant and his cooks provided the necessary bread and cakes.

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  • Quentin Schillare | Special to the Fort Leavenworth Lamp
    Most bread and other baked goods for the Commissary, the post dining facility, the confinement facilities mess halls and other locations on Fort Leavenworth are usually supplied by outside sources. Commercial bakeries are close enough and the transportation network efficient enough to make it economically feasible to ship most baked goods in instead of baking them on site.
    That was not always the case. In the days of company-level mess halls in the 19th and 20th centuries, the mess sergeant and his cooks provided the necessary bread and cakes.
    There were other sources. For years, the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks operated a bakery in the old Trolley Station supplying a limited menu of breads, pastries and other baked goods. It closed when a reduction in the inmate population led to a scaling back of some vocational training programs, much to the dismay of the donut-eating public on post.
    During the building boom on the installation between the war with Spain and mobilization for World War I, the Army constructed a large bakery to support the troops. Completed in 1903 from a Quartermaster General’s Office standardized plan and located in the Artillery Barracks complex, building 235 was a state-of-the-art bakery with three large ovens.
    Building 235 at 450 Organ Ave. is a one-story rectangular brick building with a wing on the back. Though similar to many other brick buildings on post, there are some hints to its former use. It has three large ventilators on the roof and four chimneys, more than would be expected in a structure of its size. There was a porch on the east end, now gone, but identifiable by the patches in the brick and the absence of the decorative brick near the top.
    The back wing contained the boiler room and coal bin. Coal was the fuel of choice in those days for heat in the building and the ovens. Coal was hauled up the hill by wagon from the large storage dump where the new Regional Simulation Center is now located, delivered to the back of the building and shoveled into the boiler — probably not a very pleasant duty for soldiers or civilians assigned to the task.
    The structure is oriented from east to west with a dormitory and lavatory near the former porch on the east end. The rest of the bakery was laid out in assembly line fashion: a flour store room and bread mixing area near the east entrance, then a kneading table with a nearby dough proofing room, a big room with the three ovens and handling tables, and finally, a bread storage room on the west end. Each oven was capable of producing several hundred loaves of bread per day. Unit mess teams came to the bakery to pick up their daily allotment.
    Page 2 of 2 - Building 235 was long ago converted to office and storage space. For years it has housed the Mission Command Training Program S-4 shop, the supply operation. The internal structure was renovated into small offices and storage rooms. Not much remains of its days supplying the daily bread to soldiers on Fort Leavenworth. The building is not very remarkable today, but the next time you are on Organ Avenue look at building 235 and imagine what it looked like 100 years ago when it was one of the most important buildings on post.
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