For over a century, the homes along the northern edge of Evergreen Boulevard in the Historic Reserve area served as residential housing for many of the soldiers, officers and families stationed at Vancouver Barracks.
By the time the City of Vancouver moved to rehabilitate Officers Row in the mid-1980s, the timeworn properties were described by one official as "21 white elephants nose to tail." Today, the stately tree-line boulevard is pointed to with pride as one of the city's signature assets.
The oldest homes on the Row date to the early days of Vancouver Barracks in the mid-1800s. A grassroots effort to save the historic site began in the mid-1970s. In 1980, the property was declared surplus by the U.S. Army. In 1984, it was deeded to the city for $1. Following public debate on possible uses and finances, the city initiated a $10.9 million rehabilitation effort in 1987. Funding sources included $2.5 million from the state, $1.1 million from the city, $5.8 million in municipal bonds and $1.5 million from interest and early lease income. In 1988, the first tenants moved in.
Today's Officers Row boasts 34 residential units, plus office space and the Grant, Marshall and Howard houses. The Fort Vancouver National Trust handles day-to-day operations of the Row for the city. Rent payments cover all operational expenses and are paying off the bonded debt.
Built in 1886, this Queen Anne Victorian replaced the Grant House as home for the commanding officer of the Department of the Columbia. The Marshall House enjoyed wide popularity in the 1880s and '90s as the center for sophisticated social activities in local military and civic circles. George C. Marshall was commanding officer at Vancouver Barracks from 1936-38. While here, Marshall resided in the house that now bears his name. Marshall later became U.S. Army Chief of Staff during World War II, Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense. He authored the Marshall Plan, which helped rebuild the economies of Western Europe and the Pacific Nations after World War II. General Marshall was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953 in recognition of these efforts. Today, the Marshall House is decorated with antiques from the 1880s. It is open to the public and can be reserved for conferences, public ceremonies and social gatherings. Call 693-3103 for more information.
Ulysses S. Grant was stationed at Vancouver garrison in the 1850s as a quartermaster. He returned as a visitor to Vancouver Barracks in 1879 after serving two terms as President of the United States. The Grant House, constructed as the commanding officer's quarters, was the first house built on Officers' Row. Though Grant never lived in the house, he frequented it many times as a young officer. It was renamed in Grant's honor after he achieved his military and political success. The oldest building remaining at Vancouver Barracks, the Grant House later served as an officers club for over a quarter century. Today, the building is open to the public and houses The Grant House Restaurant. Call (360) 906-1101 for more information.
The Howard House was the last historic structure to be rehabilitated on Officers Row. Anchoring the stately, tree-lined boulevard's western end, the home is named for its first inhabitant, Gen. Oliver Otis Howard (1830-1909). Recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor in the Civil War, Howard was the first head of the Freedman's Bureau, established in 1865 to aid former slaves. Howard University in Washington, D.C. was named in recognition of his work. From 1874-1880, Gen. Howard was Commander of the U. S. Army's Department of the Columbia in Vancouver. The house that bears his name was built in 1879 and is an excellent example of late-19th century Italianate-style architecture.
For more information, visit: http://www.fortvan.org/
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