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American Red Cross National Headquarters

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1915–1917, Trowbridge and Livingston. 17th and D streets NW
  • American Red Cross National Headquarters

A memorial to Civil War service primarily, the Red Cross Headquarters is unique in its attempt at symbolic reconciliation by recognizing the sacrifices of both the North and the South. In 1912, the State of New York took up the idea of a monument in Washington to honor the women who tended the sick and wounded during the war. Officials persuaded Congress to appropriate funds and provide the site with the understanding that substantial private funds would also be raised. Trowbridge and Livingston of New York were selected as architects.

The white marble Classical Revival building gains appeal from its siting well away from the street, its gentle terraces, and long circular drive. A central projecting portico of four Corinthian columns rises two stories and supports a triangular pediment. Four identical engaged columns are placed on each side of the building. The building's third story is located discreetly behind a balustrade that encircles it.

Within the building, which evokes a solemn, respectful mood, the story of the memorial is developed. A marble tablet above the main stairway cites the contributions of women on each side of the conflict. Hiram Powers designed busts of Faith, Hope, and Charity that are located on the stair landing. On the second floor in the Neoclassical/Federal Revival assembly room, a door contains three glass panels designed by Louis C. Tiffany showing the themes of wounded warriors; patron saint of the sick, Saint Filomena; and Truth with red roses.

In 1930 and 1932, two additions were built. The north addition lined with Ionic columns was conceived as a memorial to the women of World War I. The west addition is an office annex. The buildings frame a rectangular park, a welcome green space amid the area's monumental buildings.

Writing Credits

Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee


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Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee, "American Red Cross National Headquarters", [Washington, District of Columbia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of the District of Columbia, Pamela Scott and Antoinette J. Lee. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 207-208.

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