Mare Island's Building 680's Old Shipyard Sign Gets New Life

The huge, blueish building on the Mare Island waterfront is undergoing a face-lift, including a redo of the iconic Mare Island Shipyard sign, which soon will be lighted at night.

Though it’s been in use — after years in mothballs — since Blu Homes moved in a couple of years ago, the large, extremely visible Building 680 still had something of a disused look to it until recently.

“Exterior upgrades include painting, removing old pipes that are now obsolete, new roofing and rehabbing the shipyard sign,” Lennar Mare Island spokesman Ed Moser said. “LMI and Blu Homes recognize the historical importance of Building 680, and part of its historical character is the iconic shipyard sign at the top. LMI wanted to ensure the sign remains a focal point for Mare Island and its nautical heritage.”

Blu Homes, manufacturers of innovating Eco-friendly homes, has its own sign on the front of the building.

Blu Homes COO Kaitlin Burek Haggerty, said company officials are “excited to be giving a refresh to such an iconic historical building.

Our goal has been to preserve the historical features that make the factory so beautiful while still adding our own Blu touch. The exterior will remain true to the original shipyard aesthetic but when visitors enter the building they are greeted by our modern, green designs. We think it’s a great complement.”

The sign is comprised of individual letters on separate metal panels, Moser said. They were removed and repainted to make them as close to the original as possible.

Workers are also installing new energy efficient fixtures to light up the shipyard sign at night, though they have not yet been turned on, he said.

“We think it’s great to highlight the progress taking place all over the island, like environmental cleanup, infrastructure improvements and building rehab going on all over the island,” he said.

Built in 1940, Building 680 — technically at 1245 Nimitz Avenue — is best known for its role in rebuilding the Pacific Fleet after Pearl Harbor, historical websites on the matter say.

The 250,000-square-foot former submarine and ship manufacturing and repair shop is the size of four football fields.

It was the largest machine shop under one roof west of the Mississippi River in its time, websites note. It has a central bay that is the equivalent of 10 stories tall, they say.

The “Mare Island Naval Shipyard” sign across the building’s top, can be seen from the mainland side of Mare Island Strait along the Vallejo waterfront, giving it a high profile.

“LMI is continuously working on building rehabilitation, especially for historic structures on Mare Island,” Moser said. “At the time of Blu Homes’ initial occupancy, both Blu and LMI performed millions of dollars of work upgrading the interior of Building 680 and in March of this year, LMI began exterior upgrades.”

All this work is expected to be completed by the end of this year, Moser said.

Contact Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at (707) 553-6824.