The Naval Ordnance Laboratory (NOL) was a facility in the White Oak area of Montgomery County, Maryland. It is now used as the headquarters of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The U.S. Navy Mine Unit, later the Mine Laboratory at the Washington, D.C., Navy Yard, was established in 1918, and the first Officer in Charge (OIC) arrived in February 1919, marking the beginning of the Laboratory. In 1929 the Mine Laboratory was merged with the Experimental Ammunition Station in Indian Head to form the Naval Ordnance Laboratory.
NOL began slowly, and it was not until the beginnings of World War II, when Germany's aircraft-laid magnetic mine began to cause serious problems for the Allies. As the importance of NOL's work became apparent, it also became apparent that there wasn't enough space at the Navy Yard to accommodate the necessary research facilities.
In 1944, acquisition, planning and construction work began at a 712-acre (2.88 km2) wooded site located at 10903 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland. Someone remarked to a Navy official during early 1945 that it seemed odd to be building the new laboratory at that time: the war would probably be over before the facility could be finished. "That laboratory" remarked the Navy man, "is not being built for this war".