- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 13, 2004

A bunker built during the Cold War in a mountain east of Culpeper, Va., will soon preserve one of the most expansive movie and music collections in the world.

The old bunker of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond in Mount Pony will become the Library of Congress’ new National Audio-Visual Conservation Center next year and will hold up to 900,000 films and 2.6 million audio recordings.

“The Library of Congress was looking for an area to expand its storage, and the Federal Reserve Building was very suitable because it had temperature and climate control with vaults for storage,” Culpeper County Commissioner Frank Bossio said.

Mr. Bossio also said the center should create at least 140 jobs for area residents. People will not be allowed to go to the facility to listen to music or watch the movies.

The facility, located near the intersection of Routes 522 and 3, was decommissioned by the government in the early 1990s. The project, which includes the renovation and expansion of the bunker, is being funded by the Packard Humanities Institute.

Gregory Lukow, the congressional librarian’s chief of the motion picture, broadcasting and recorded sound division, said the bunker was built in the late 1960s facing away from the District. It is about 70 miles southwest of the city.

During the Cold War era, Mount Pony stored $3 billion in coins and paper currency, including a large number of $2 bills shrink-wrapped and stacked 9 feet high on pallets, according to the Brookings Institution. The money would have been used to help replenish the economy in case of a nuclear attack, Mr. Lukow said.

“It was also equipped with dormlike facilities for members from the Federal Reserve banking system to sleep, live and work in case we ever came under attack,” Mr. Lukow said.

Once the renovations are complete, the new 420,000-square-foot center will be opened in two phases.

The library will begin moving its collection into a newly renovated Federal Reserve building in June 2005.

The second phase will include the opening of a 180,000-square-foot extension constructed onto the side of the original building in April 2006. The extension will house collection-processing areas, preservation laboratories and staff.

The following addition, taking up 55,000 square feet, will consist of some 120 vaults designed to store nitrate motion-picture films that were created from the 1890s to 1951. These films are highly flammable and must be stored separately. The library will store these films at 39 degrees with a relative humidity level of 35 percent.

The 50,000-square-foot central plant, will be built directly behind the original building and hold the equipment necessary for the facility to operate.

“We’re very happy to have this facility available to us,” Mr. Lukow said. “Right now, we have facilities in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and the District. So to have this new facility so close to us is really outstanding.”

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