Read more about the Red Cross building and the Artillery Barracks and read a historian's account of 160 years at Vancouver Barracks.
At one point, the Post Hospital at the Vancouver Barracks was the among the busiest Army hospitals in the country — thanks in no small part to the Spanish Influenza — with some 21,000 patients in 1918. Today, the 105-year-old building sees little more than a few maintenance workers — and looks like it’s ready for its close-up as the set of a horror movie.
Looking at the charred spots left on the walls and the ceilings, National Park Service Archaeologist Bob Cromwell tilted his head up and said, “We’re lucky this building is still here.” The massive artillery Barracks, built in 1904 to house two full artillery companies on the Fort Vancouver National Site caught fire sometime in the 1930s, the historian said.
To the Fort Vancouver National Trust, the Red Cross Building is a shining beacon of what a vision — and a few million dollars — can achieve. Built in 1918 and 1919, it opened its doors as a convalescent ward for the thousands of returning World War I soldiers. Some suffered from physical wounds. Others were dealing with the mental trauma that can come from combat.
"Although Vancouver Barracks seems a quiet military backwater today, in the 160-plus years since it was founded, its soldiers have participated in many Indian campaigns across the Pacific Northwest and other major conflicts such as the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II."