During the early 1950s, Bratenahl became the unwitting participant in protecting the United States against the genuine belief that the world’s great superpowers would destroy one another in a nuclear holocaust. The U.S. Army selected the western end of Bratenahl as a preferred site for Project Nike. No, it wasn’t for Nike Inc, the sports apparel company which came along much later.
Cleveland, due to its extensive manufacturing, was determined to be one of the fourteen critical defense areas in the country. A genuine belief marked the period that the world’s great superpowers would destroy one another in a nuclear holocaust. The United States and the Soviet Union were ramping-up productions of warheads, and tensions frequently threatened to boil over.
Project Nike began during 1944 when the War Department demanded a new air defense system to combat the new jet aircraft, as existing gun-based systems proved largely incapable of dealing with the speeds and altitudes at which jet aircraft operated. Project Nike was a U. S. Army project, proposed by Bell Laboratories in May 1945, to develop a line-of-sight anti-aircraft missile system. The project delivered the first operational anti-aircraft missile system, the Nike Ajax, in 1953. The name Nike derived from Nike, the goddess of victory from Greek mythology. The program brought Nike Ajax and Nike Hercules missiles to the Cleveland area during the “Cold War” era.
Over the village council’s feeble protests, the U. S. Army prevailed in its determination to build a Nike missile-launching base and acquired thirty-five acres at the west end of Bratenahl.
In 1956 Liberty Holden’s Loch Hame at 8907 Lake Shore Boulevard transferred to the U. S. Government and razed. The carriage house was spared.
The Salisbury property at 489 East 88th Street transferred to the U. S. Government. After some protest, the dwelling, greenhouse, and gardens of the then-current owner, 85-year-old Fredericka Ferris, were spared, and she continued to live in the house until she died in 1958.
The Bole home at 501 East 88th Street transferred to the U. S. Government and razed in 1956.
The U.S. Government moved Lake Shore Boulevard south, parallel to the Lakeland Freeway, to accommodate the base. The old stretch of Lake Shore Boulevard beginning at East 96th Street and terminating at the Army’s fenced perimeter became Holden Lane. The western entrance to the Village, once the most impressive and beautiful, never recovered.
The Bratenahl base, housing 122 military personnel, was activated in February 1957. It consisted of the launcher area with underground storage for 20 Ajax missiles and 12 launchers, generator, acid-storage buildings, and fueling area. The control area, one-half mile from the launch area, consisted of a mess hall, administration building, barracks, radar tower, and control van. In November 1958, eighteen of the more sophisticated Hercules missiles replaced the Ajax missiles.
Soviet development of intercontinental ballistic missiles decreased the value of the Nike aircraft air defense system. The number of Nike batteries were reduced on or about 1965. The Bratenahl base soon became obsolete and was de-activated in June 1971 and the launcher demolished in 1973.
The U.S. Navy Consolidated Data Center (CDC) built on the thirty-five acres of the former the Army Nike site. When the Navy took over the abandoned buildings, they were in a state of disrepair. The grounds were overgrown, and the shoreline was eroding at a rate of 10 feet per year. The federal government constructed a seawall along the coastline to slow the erosion.
The building of the CDC was an extraordinarily ambitious project because it represented the first “from the ground up” Naval computer and communications facility. Groundbreaking was March 16, 1973, and the building finished in March 1974. The CDC was named the Rear Admiral Isaac Campbell Kidd Computer Center, named after the first flag officer to die in World War II. Admiral Kidd, a native Clevelander, killed at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese sank his ship, the USS Arizona.
The center became the Navy Finance Center in 1983 with the arrival of hardware and software from the Navy’s Personnel and Pay project. The project called for the consolidation of separate Automated Data Processing procurement efforts ongoing at the Naval Military Personnel Command.
In 1984, the U. S. Government leased several acres on the west back to the City of Cleveland so they could release the property to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for a state park. In 2013, Cleveland Metroparks took over the Ohio State Park.
On January 23, 1991, the Navy Finance Center, including the Consolidated Data Center, came under the control of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) to assume full management responsibility for the finance and accounting functions of the Department of Defense components.
The Defense Information Technology Services Organization (DITSO) was established on May 10, 1992, as a fee-for-services utility. Personnel from DFAS and CDC transferred to the DITSO Cleveland Information Processing Center and Technical Support Office. The DITSO mission was to deliver information processing and data communication product and services at competitive prices to satisfy the goals of DFAS centers and portions of the Defense Logistics Agency.
On October 3, 1993, DITSO reorganized as the Defense Information Services Organization (DISO). The Department of Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) recommended closure of DITSO Cleveland Information Center and its consolidation with a new DITSO mega-center at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, effective September 1995.
Defense Contract Management Command (DCMC) requested the use of the facility in early 1995 with approval coming in August. A Bratenahl relocation team instituted a plan and implement the renovation of the facilities. One Hundred Eighty-Four employees moved from the Celebrezze Federal Building in downtown Cleveland and reported in Bratenahl March 4, 1996.
The Admiral Kidd Center is currently a facility working directly with defense suppliers to ensure that the Department of Defense, federal, and allied government supplies and services are delivered on time, at projected cost, and meet all performance requirements.