Pan American Union Building

Headquarters of The Organization of American States, Pan American Union Building, Washington, DC

Headquarters of The Organization of American States, Pan American Union Building, Washington, DC

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Pan American Union Building

The Pan American Union Building is located at the corner of 17th Street NW and Constitution Avenue NW in Washington DC. It is constructed of white marble and funded in part by a $750,000 gift from Andrew Carnegie. Designed by architects Paul Cret and Albert Kelsey, it is the headquarters of the world’s oldest international organization. Originally called the Pan American Union, the Organization of American States, as it is now known, is an association of nations formed by 35 countries from the Americas and Caribbean.

Completed in 1910, the building was considered the architectural wonder of its time. The architects set out to create a symbol of the unity of the hemisphere by employing a harmonious combination of some of the major cultural influences found in the member states. The Spanish colonial influences in the neoclassic design are obvious to anyone approaching the building. It is only as you get closer that it becomes apparent there are also Native American, French, Portuguese and English styles within the building design.

Headquarters of The Organization of American States, Pan American Union Building, Washington, DC

Headquarters of The Organization of American States, Pan American Union Building, Washington, DC

– Click on the image to enlarge or purchase –

The Director General of what was then known as the Pan American Union, John Barrett, said of the building: “This monumental intention is to give visible expression to the ideas of unity, of solidarity, of amity that found realization in the Union of American Republics… This is not only a palace, but the spiritual home of the citizens of the 21 American republics” that founded the Organization on April 14, 1890.

The Pan American Union Building also hosted the initial meeting of the International Labour Organization, a United Nations agency dealing with labor standards throughout the world, in 1919.  It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1969.

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Summary
Pan American Union Building
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Pan American Union Building
Description
The Pan American Union Building is the headquarters of the word’s oldest international organization, the Organization of American States.
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Mark Summerfield
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