This is archived information. It may contain outdated contact names, telephone numbers, Web links, or other information. For up-to-date information visit GSA.gov pages by topic or contact our Office of Public Affairs at press@gsa.gov. For a list of public affairs officers by beat, visit the GSA Newsroom.

Historic Sasabe Port of Entry Restored

Historic Preservation at the Sasabe Land Port of Entry
Picture of the Sasabe Land Port of Entry taken May 7, 1937

Working on historic buildings makes project manager, Brandon Wharton, feel like he’s traveling back in time. His most recent project, the historic preservation of the Sasabe Land Port of Entry (LPOE), transported him to 1930s southeast Arizona. Channeling equal parts Bob Villa, Sherlock Holmes, and Indiana Jones, Wharton and his team of experts stripped away 86 years of non-historic alterations and used historically accurate materials and construction techniques to preserve the historic border station.

Built during the Great Depression by the U.S. Treasury Department in 1937, the Sasabe LPOE was one of the first purpose-built border facilities designed exclusively for land crossings. Its Colonial Revival style and chimneys may look strangely out of place in the sweltering Sonoran desert until you learn that it shares the same blueprints as the Beebe Plain LPOE in Vermont and was designed for colder climates.

 

Preserving original building elements and removing past alterations to restore the architectural character of the building.
Preserving original building elements and removing past alterations restored the architectural character of the building.

Historic preservation work began in September 2022 and lasted six months. Using historic preservation funding, the contractors painstakingly preserved original building elements, including windows and window frames, doors and door knobs, wood floors, and other fixtures to their original condition. Furthermore, they restored the border station’s historic architectural style by removing or minimizing visual clutter from past alterations that detracted from its architectural character. Historic photographs were also used to ensure the project stayed true to the port's original design and aesthetic.

“This was my first historic preservation project and I thoroughly enjoyed it. From finding long-lost building blueprints in the basement to the excitement of discovering the original shade of stain for the wood floors, there was never a dull moment!” exclaimed Wharton. “I’m proud of how well it turned out because this was one of my most challenging projects. Beyond repairing decades of damage and wear and tear, you take extra steps to make the port exactly like it did when it was first built.”

Regional historic preservation specialist, Natalie Loukianoff, was also instrumental to the Sasabe LPOE project’s success. “I learned so much from Natalie. I probably asked a lot of questions, but she was always glad to help,” said Wharton appreciatively. He also recalled feeling a special connection to the people who designed and built the Sasabe LPOE. “I take great pride that we preserved the port in a manner that pays homage to our predecessors, maintains its historic integrity, and demonstrates our commitment to ensure the building is around for future generations.”