The Pentagon Athletic Center has a long history of providing exercise facilities to meet the physical fitness needs of Pentagon personnel. This history of addressing the need for physical fitness began in October 1946, almost four years after construction of the Pentagon was completed. The leadership made a request in October of 1946 to organize a “Physical Exercise Association” and utilize the space in the area underneath the River Terrace because exercise facilities at that time in the Washington area were over crowded and too expensive for junior officers. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, then Chief of Staff of the Army, approved facilities for exercise in the Pentagon in December 1946. The Constitution and by-laws of the Pentagon Officers’ Athletic Center (POAC) were approved the following month in January 1947.
As with most great initiatives, the POAC’s beginnings were modest with limited resources when it opened on January 21, 1947 for male officers only. The initial annual dues were two dollars per person, much less than the fees on the local economy. The facility was originally run by the Army, but due to a critical shortage of military personnel, it was recommended in April 1948 to employ civilians to operate the POAC. In November 1970 the POAC became a non-appropriated fund facility. Female officers and civilians in grades of GS-11 and above were extended membership in April 1974. One year later, membership privileges for enlisted and all other civilians were approved, and in April 1997 POAC membership was extended to DoD contractors.
Over the many years of operation, the POAC staff has continued to improve service to meet the needs of the facility’s membership. Since October 1998, the POAC staff has introduced several initiatives to include free membership to enlisted Service members, E-1 though E-6, warrant officers, and junior officers in grades 01 through 03; consistently upgraded equipment; opened two annexes in Crystal City - Jefferson Plaza and in the Taylor Building.
On March 28, 2004 the POAC closed its doors after 57 years of operation. The closure marked the end of an era for a stalwart facility that had become a significant part of many Pentagon residents’ lives. The Pentagon’s newly constructed 100,000 square foot facility reopened on March 29, 2004 with a new name, the Pentagon Athletic Center (PAC), but with the same mission – to provide an affordable exercise facility for Pentagon personnel. The PAC began a new era of promoting physical fitness and healthy lifestyles for the Pentagon community.
As a result of BRAC actions, the Jefferson Plaza Annex closed permanently on Wednesday, 31 August 2011. A new PAC Annex in the Mark Center opened on 7 November 2011. This brand new facility offers state-of-the-art equipment, beautiful large windows overlooking a nature sanctuary, luxurious locker rooms, and two group exercise studios.
The PAC will cross a historical marker in January 2017 when it will celebrate its 70th year anniversary. This anniversary will be a hallmark of 70 years of excellence that will underscore the significant history of the facility and cause a memorable reflection for supporters, employees and members. This abounding tradition will create a pathway to realize a vision for the PAC to play a significant role in providing exemplary health and fitness services to the Pentagon community for years to come.