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.
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.
In 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.
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.
On 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.
The 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 :
- US Army Signal Corps
- US Army Cavalry
- US Army Field Artillery
- US Army – Women’s Army Corps
- US Army Band – “Pershing’s Own”
- US Army 3d Infantry Regiment – “The Old Guard”
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.
Begun as the Women’s Army Auxilliary 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)
When the Custis-Lee’s lived and worked among their 1,100 acres, the flat 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.
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.