It’s not the first time that an entire American town has gone on the auction block, but it might be the most unusual. Sugar Grove Station, West Virginia was originally a United States Navy military base to support part of the National Security Agency’s surveillance operation. Though the array of giant parabolic dishes that continue to track location and content of international telecommunications activity is still in operation and not part of the sale, they are completely obscured from view behind thick forest on their ridgetop one mile distant. When it became unnecessary to house related analytical staff at the base, it was retired in the fall of 2015 and put up for auction to the highest bidder over $1 million.
Built between 1960 and 2014, the fenced and gated rural town has private full-service utilities to support as many as 500 people on over 120 acres. Included are 80 homes on tree-lined residential streets in like-new condition, a swimming pool, bowling alley, youth daycare center, community center with fireplace which was designed to function as a restaurant with bar, a gym, full-sized indoor basketball court, tennis and racquetball courts, a football field, large playground with kiddie pool, and twelve guest cabins for visitors. There are also several large buildings for multiple use as well as a four-section hobby building for working on cars, woodworking shop and other creative pursuits. For community safety, a police station and fire station are already in place.
Sugar Grove is surrounded by the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests between the Allegheny Mountains and the south fork of the Potomac River. It is located within a 13,000-square-mile area known as the National Radio Quiet Zone, so cell phones, WiFi and any equipment operating on radio frequencies are restricted from use. The Quiet Zone was established in 1958 by Congress so as not to interfere with the operation of the nearby parabolic dishes or the National Radio Astronomy Observatory 30 miles away.
Former U.S. Navy base, Sugar Grove Station, perfect as a corporate retreat, academic campus, corporate training center or left to one’s imagination is up for auction by the U.S. General Services Administration with a minimum bid of $1 million. Auction ending date not yet determined.