Ever wonder who works in the buildings in Vancouver Barracks? We did, and decided it was time to find out. After all, the Army plans to leave the barracks by this time next year. So, with help from the Army, the National Park Service and the Fort Vancouver National Trust we set out to learn the history and current use of each building in the West, East and South barracks. We figured a huge print map in The Columbian would be fascinating. But then we realized by creating an interactive map for www.columbian.com we could have a lasting, living document. Columbian artist Marsha Matta created the interactive map. We hope you enjoy clicking around the map and finding explanations, photographs and videos. Our thanks to dozens of persons who work in Vancouver Barracks for helping us with the project. —Dave Kern, project editor
« Back All those buildings in Vancouver Barracks and Officers Row need no longer be a mystery. Click around our interactive map, created by Columbian artist Marsha Matta. You'll find photos, descriptions and videos. Take your time because there's plenty to see.
« Back Grab a glimpse of 160 years of military history with our stories and photos. Learn about units that have drilled in the barracks, including the "Timberwolves."
« Back Could a hotel, an arts facility and other commercial buildings be in West Barracks' future? With the success of the Red Cross building as a place for special occasions, the folks at the Fort Vancouver National Trust are hoping to make big things happen.
« Back 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."