Map of Fort Myer

A 1972 Tour of Fort Myer – Part I


When you are poking around in America's attic, it's amazing what sometimes just drops into your lap. It's only been around since 1863 when it was known as Fort Whipple  -  though the constant on Fort Myer is change.  It began as one of then nearly 70 forts during the US Civil War as part of the Defenses of Washington.  Unlike the other forts, it is the only remaining and still doing what it was designed to do - Defend the Capital City!
Map of Fort Myer
Map of Fort Myer
  The map above shows what is in the present time.   At one point in the post's history it was referred to as "North Post" since in the 1940s up until the mid 1970s there was a "South Post"  Fort Myer that was originally established to provide housing for the WACS and Soldiers who worked in the Pentagon and other agencies in downtown Washington DC.  It also provided housing for the women who also worked downtown.  By the 1980s, South Post was a faint memory.  It's barracks and other buildings - PX, HQs, Chapel, Gymnasium, Pool and more were gone.  Its acres became part of Arlington National Cemetery as the cemetery needed to expand.   Explore and enjoy this 1972 tour of Fort Myer. What follows below are some historic and 1972 era photos found while doing further research...   Fort-Myer-Photos-1972-19 The photo above shows when the post primarily consisted of wooden buildings.  The building in center of the photo is the post hospital and access to it was via the bridge seen in the foreground.  The bridge is long gone as are the other buildings in the photo.  Around the turn of the 19th century, a concerted building project resulted in a new set of buildings primarily constructed of brick.     Fort-Myer-Photos-1972-14 In the above photograph, the view down Grant Avenue looking to the North shows some of the "Generals Row" homes. Quarters One, home to the Chief of Staff of the US Army is at the end of this street. To the right side of the photograph would be Whipple Field where the original Fort Whipple stood during the US Civil War.   Fort-Myer-Photos-1972-18 Building #246, back in 1972 was headquarters of the 3d Infantry - "The Old Guard"    The regiment would eventually relocate from this building and it would become barracks for one of the operating companies of the regiment.   Fort-Myer-Photos-1972-11   This building was a puzzle when first found, but upon further research it was learned that this was Bachelor Officer Quarters (BOQ) that was placed nearby to Wainwright Hall on Fort Myer.


If you've enjoyed this small glimpse of Fort Myer, then perhaps you should BUY THE BOOK.  An author autographed copy is available here on this website. Coming next  A 1972 Tour of Fort Myer - Part II
Chapel on South Post

South Post’s New Chapel

While still considered "Arlington Cantonment" a new chapel was built in 1941 on the acreage that was originally Arlington Farms.  Ground breaking occurred in May 1941 and shortly thereafter it's spire rose in the sky with the US Capitol building in the distance. Chapel on South Post It would be on July 27, 1941 that Chief of Staff of the Army, General George Catlett Marshall would dedicate this new house of worship on what eventually would become South Post, Fort Myer. This chapel design was the prototype of a chapel that would be built on many US Army Posts across the United States of America.  Over 500 chapels in total would be erected, many of them still to this day providing a place of worship for the Soldiers, their families and friends. The building on Arlington Cantonment  would mark the beginning of the rapid build up of and eventual renaming of the area to South Post during World War II and for many years had its own Post Commander and population into the thousands.   The South Post Chapel, like the Post Chapel of Fort Myer, would have its own Sunday School, youth groups and chapel services.   In the 1950's the Military District of Washington Staff Chaplain was located in one of the many buildings within the South Post acreage.  Did you attend services at the South Post Chapel?   Please leave a comment and tell us about it.    Any photographs of the chapel?   We'd love to see those too! The chapel would become inactive in 1969 reflecting the reduction in population and elimination of family housing. (1958 Fort Myer Snapshot)  Reviews in the early 1970s showed that the chapel was deteriorated beyond repair.  With plans to replace it once South Post was turned back to Arlington National Cemetery, this historic building was razed.  The new chapel was to stand where the Columbarium in Arlington National Cemetery currently is, but for reasons unknown, it was never built. With over 200 historical photographs, "Images of America - Fort Myer" provides a visual history of this unique US Army Post with origins during the US Civil War when it was known as Fort Whipple.   One of the original Defenses of Washington, Fort Myer still provides for the defense of the US Capital and is a showcase for the Military District of Washington and the US Army.
Headquarters - Fort Myer

Fort Myer circa 1958 – Some statistics

Headquarters - Fort MyerIn 1958,  Fort Myer consisted of North Post and South Post - the combined acreage was still less than 500 acres.  However, there was a population of over 10,000 ... with two chapels, two movie theaters, nine mess halls which served on average 198,000 meals a month. In addition to the US Army Band - "Pershing's Own", the US 3d Infantry Regiment - "The Old Guard"  and Headquarters Company of the US Army, the US Air Force had many units stationed within the fort's perimeter.   Fort Myer was also the headquarters for the Cold War's Defenses of Washington, nearly 20 Nike Missile sites that surrounded the nation's Capital. In the book "Images of America - Fort Myer" - there are over 200 historical photographs which provide an insight to this unique US Army Post's history, contributions and the events which occurred within its acres.   With origins during the US Civil War when it was known as Fort Whipple,  Fort Myer stands as a showcase of a model US Army installation steeped in history and contributions to the United States of America - noteworthy among them  is the birthplace of military aviation, the establishment of the National Weather Service.
Ground breaking for Arlington Cantonment Chapel 04 MAY 1941

Arlington Cantonment Gets A Chapel

It was 1941,  the month of May and with the anticipation of the United States increasing the participation in the war raging in Europe, preparations around the Capital City of Washington DC continued.   Across the Potomac river, the Arlington Farms acreage had provided a place for the Agricultural Department to raise experimental crops - now was converted into Arlington Cantonment with more troops arriving and activity increasing. Ground breaking for Arlington Cantonment Chapel 04 MAY 1941On the 4th of May, wielding a shovel,  COL Oswald Saunders broke ground for what would become the first chapel within these acres.  Construction would only take a couple of months and the chapel would be dedicated later in July 1941.   As the population grew and more permanent buildings were constructed, Arlington Cantonment would eventually be renamed South Post Fort Myer.  The two areas combined would still be less than 500 acres, though their contributions would be tremendous. The book "Images of America - Fort Myer" with over 200 historical photographs provides an insight to some of the major contributions, events and people who have helped to shape and mold this historic US Army Post and the contributions made over the years.
Proudly Made in the United States of America

Two Months and Counting

Proudly Made in the United States of AmericaThe availability date JUNE 13, 2011, is quickly approaching for  the book - "Images of America - Fort Myer"  Virginia.  The reaction from those who have previewed the book and the over 200 historic images within has been very gratifying and complimentary. From a noted historian:  "You've done yeoman work here in both research and composition" From a previous member of  The Old Guard: "Outstanding work, it really goes back in time to tell the story of a significant US Army Post." From a retired US Army Colonel: "Where did you ever find that note from Abraham Lincoln to General Totten?  It's priceless!"
Within the book there are presented many different influences that shaped and molded Fort Myer.  With origins during the US Civil War as Fort Whipple - one of the 70 fortifications which protected Washington DC - this US Army Post has contributed much to the United States through the efforts of : From inception of military aviation, national weather service, implementation of communications, standardization of affordable transportation and... Fort Myer is a gem among military installations and the book "Images of America - Fort Myer" provides a history spanning the first 100 years. Images of America - Fort Myer
Women's Army Corps (WAC) WW II recruiting poster

Women’s Army Corps on South Post

Women's Army Corps (WAC) WW II recruiting poster


Begun as the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) in MAY 1942, it became a branch of the US Army in 1943 then known as the Women's Army Corps (WAC).  During WW II some 150,000 women served in the Army and Fort Myer had its share.   Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby was the first director from 1942 to 1945. At Fort Myer, South Post, they were about 1,900 in number and housed in barracks at what was that time South Post of Fort Myer. They were the first women to serve in the Army other than nurses.  "Images of America - Fort Myer" includes several historical photographs which provide a glimpse of the past service of these women who lived on South Post.  The WAC would continue on as a branch of the US Army until 1978, when those who were serving, were included into the Army based on their military occupational specialty (MOS) Their history is rich and legacy long.  More accounting of their contributions, including a top-secret mission during World War II is found in the book by MAJ Elna Grahn In the Company of Wacs.  They shared South Post Fort Myer with the civilian women who worked in Washington, DC and other Soldiers from what was Headquarters Company of the US Army. South Post was the location of many events while it existed that are milestones in the US Army's history.  These are chronicled in the book Images of America - Fort Myer.


The book was released on 13 JUN 2011 and chronicles the first one hundred years of this Civil War era US Army Post when it was first called Fort Whipple in honor of General Amiel Weeks Whipple.   He commanded the Defenses of Washington using Arlington House as his headquarters.  An autographed copy of the book "Images of America - Fort Myer"  can be had on the page BUY THE BOOK.  Alternative choices of purchase are also offered.
Arlington Farms during World War II - buses provided transportation

Arlington Farms During WW II

When the Custis-Lee's lived and worked among their 1,100 acres, the Arlington Farms during World War II - buses provided transportationflat land near the Potomac River was where they grew their crops in support of the estate - for their own personal use and to also sell in nearby Alexandria City and downtown Washington DC.  Nearly 100 years later as World War II raged in Europe and the Pacific, the land which had been then used by the US Department of Agriculture to raise experimental crops was requisitioned by the War Department.  The northern half of the acreage would still be called Arlington Farms, the southern part would initially become Arlington Cantonment, later South Post of Fort Myer.Alington Farms Women's Housing during World War II A major housing complex was constructed for the thousands of women who would work downtown Washington DC were constructed on this northern acreage.   It served the needs of the country's war effort well.   After the war, the buildings were raised and later Arlington National Cemetery's visitor center and administration building would be built within the acreage, while the remainder would be used for final resting places for the military veterans and their spouses.  The most northern boundary of the acreage would eventually be marked by the Netherlands Carillon, a gift from the people of the Netherlands for the aid that the United States provided during and after WW II. The book,  "Images of America - Fort Myer"  contains over 200  images, some of them aerial photos and diagrams that shows the evolution over time how the landscape of this area changed  plus.