High Temperature Surveillance Magazine/Test Conditioning Chamber
Building number 166

Building 166 was designed in 1941 and built in 1943, during the wartime expansion of research facilities at Picatinny. As can be seen on the “Drawings” tab below, the 1941 plans called for a second structure identical to Building 166 (Building 197), which would eventually be built adjacent to 166. Like its neighbors at what would come to be called "Chemistry Row," Building 166 was designed in the Colonial Revival Style (though somewhat simpler overall), featuring a symmetrical façade, Georgian door surrounds on both the front and rear doors, Flemish bond brickwork, and hipped roof. The east and west façades (front and rear) had central doorways with windows to each side. The interior consisted of control rooms at front and rear connected by a narrow passageway with four windows along one side of the building, and a large central space containing four self-contained, double-walled circular surveillance chambers with reinforced concrete ceilings, each with its own entrance.

Building Information

Year Built



Concrete foundation; brick bearing walls; slate roof


One story, 45' x 57'



Propellant Surveillance

Propellant Test Area

Samples of propellants are sent from all over the country to Picatinny for “surveillance” -  monitoring of volatility under various controlled conditions. In buildings 166 and 197, the samples were placed in glass containers and positioned along the circular shelves that surrounded the heating element in each test chamber. Heating the samples caused “accelerated aging” so that the safety of propellant supplies could be closely monitored and controlled.  Staff would check the fumes produced in each sample jar on a daily basis.  Special tests on smaller groups of samples, where auto-ignition might be the endpoint, were isolated in one of the chambers.

I Worked Here

Millie D'Augustine

Millie D'Augustine

Millie D'Augustine was responsible for monitoring the samples in buildings 166 and 197 for many years, and here describes the procedures she followed and the importance of flagging aged and unstable propellants for removal from field situations.

Propellant Test Samples Propellant Test Samples

Additional Building Photographs

Building No 166building No. 166
building No. 166building No. 166

Building 166 Plans (click on the image for a separate close-up view)

  • Building 166 Elevation Plan
  • Building 166 Construction Detail Plan