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The American National Red Cross Headquarters occupies a complete city block on 17th Street NW, Washington, DC, just down the road from the Pan American Union Building. Constructed of Vermont white marble, it was consecrated to the memory of the women of the Civil War who, “…through the four years of terrible strife, bore almost unbearable burdens of their own and at the same time ministered devoutly to the wants of the sick and wounded of their respective sides.” (extracted from The America Red Cross Magazine, Volume 10).
Befitting a building which was deemed from the outset to be of national historical significance, the corner stone was laid by none other than President Woodrow Wilson. An elaborate but somber ceremony for the laying of the cornerstone took place on March 27, 1915. Over a thousand people were there to witness the event. Many other dignitaries including Former President Taft and Chief Justice Lemar were present. Also there and speaking during the ceremonies was Mabel Boardman who as Chairman of the National Relief Board of the American Red Cross had been influential in the building’s development.
Completed in May 1917, the building became in perpetuity the headquarters of the American Red Cross. There is a marble tablet over the main staircase bearing the words: “Built by the Government of the United States and Patriotic Citizens to the Women of the North and the Women of the South, Held in Loving Memory by a Now United Country, that Their Labors to Mitigate the Sufferings of the Sick and Wounded in War May be Forever Perpetuated, this Building is Dedicated to the Service of the American Red Cross.”
The building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965.
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