A look at Vancouver Barracks’ history



To view more stories, interactive maps and reader memories, visit The Columbian's special Vancouver Barracks section at http://www.columbian.com/news/barracks/

The Army Reserve and Washington National Guard occupy 27 buildings in the East and South Barracks. Vancouver Barracks hosts a family resource center for identification cards and family support, a post exchange, and a beauty and barber shop.

To view more stories, interactive maps and reader memories, visit The Columbian’s special Vancouver Barracks section at http://www.columbian.com/news/barracks/

1825: Hudson’s Bay Co. builds Fort Vancouver near the Columbia River, laying the foundation for future Vancouver Barracks.

1848: Secretary of War W.L. Macy authorizes a military post in the Northwest.

1849: Maj. John Hatheway arrives as first commanding officer at “Camp Columbia” three years after a treaty with Great Britain establishes the U.S.-Canadian border at 49th parallel.

1850: Army changes post’s name to Columbia Barracks to avoid confusion with Fort Vancouver.

1853: Lt. Col. Benjamin Bonneville sets the final boundaries for the post at 640 acres, or one square mile.

1853: Military post name changed to Fort Vancouver.

1877: Chief Red Heart and 33 Nez Perce Indians are released after being imprisoned at the barracks for eight months.

1879: War Department formally adopts the name Vancouver Barracks.

1880: First Army post exchange opens after Lt. Col. Henry Morrow grows weary of his soldiers frequenting Vancouver’s saloons.

1887: The infantry barracks is built, the oldest of the 16 structures at the West Barracks that remain today.

1898: Spanish American War. Many soldiers stationed at the barracks deploy.

1899: Philippine Insurrection. Many U.S. forces deployed from Vancouver Barracks.

1906: More buildings are erected at the barracks, including Barnes Hospital, forerunner of today’s Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Also, soldiers are deployed from Vancouver Barracks to San Francisco to help with recovery from earthquake and fire.

1916: Vancouver Barracks bustles with soldiers responding to battles with Brig. Gen. John J. Pershing in Mexico.

1917: World War I brings 30,000 soldiers to barracks for training and deployment.

1919: The Red Cross building opens as the Northwest’s first hospitality house for convalescing World War I soldiers.

1945: 30,000 military personnel come and go from barracks, which becomes a hub for soldiers coming back from World War II.

1946: 104th Division arrives at the barracks, reactivated after World War II as a reserve unit.

1961: Congress approves legislation that places the South Barracks and East Barracks within the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site’s boundaries.

Oct. 1996: Congress creates Vancouver National Historic Reserve, a 366-acre area that includes Vancouver Barracks, Officers Row, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, Pearson Field, Marine Park and Water Resources Education Center.

Nov. 1996: Civilians working on base-closure issues at Fort Lewis say Army’s goal is to vacate the barracks by summer 1998.

April 1998: Group of 30 people travels to Virginia to visit Colonial Williamsburg, seeking ideas on how to transform Vancouver National Historic Reserve into “Williamsburg of the West.”

July 1999: Army releases environmental assessment on plans to declare West Barracks surplus property.

Nov. 1999: Vancouver National Historic Reserve Trust submits proposal for preserving and reusing barracks.

Dec. 1999: City council unanimously endorses city takeover of barracks, pledges up to $6 million to improve infrastructure at West Barracks.

Feb. 2000: U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., submits first legislative proposal to transfer West Barracks to the city at no cost.

May 2000: House and Senate approve different bills authorizing transfer of parts of Vancouver Barracks.

July 2000: Army holds ceremony marking end of active military’s presence at Vancouver Barracks, leaving only Reserve and National Guard units at the post.

Oct. 2000: President Bill Clinton signs legislation authorizing the Army to transfer a portion of Vancouver Barracks to the city at no cost.

May 2003: Vancouver City Council awards an $804,500 contract to renovate the 1919-vintage Red Cross building at Vancouver Barracks, the first building to be rehabilitated at the West Barracks.

Nov. 2003: Army Reserve reveals plans to move to new headquarters in Clark County away from barracks, but new commander, Maj. Gen. Terrill Moffett, says he will fight to keep the Reserve in the old barracks buildings.

Feb. 2004: Local businessman Arch Miller announces plan to open hospitality and culinary schools, historic lodging, a bakery and tea house in portions of the West Barracks.

May 2005: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld releases list of recommended base closures that includes Vancouver Barracks.

July 4, 2010: 104th Division Headquarters set to move to Joint Base Lewis-McChord (formerly Fort Lewis) by end of July. All military due to be out of Vancouver Barracks by late summer 2011.