Officers Row at Fort Vancouver, Washington consists of 21 historically restored homes that were built for U.S. Army officers. The homes were built over a period of years starting with homes for the highest ranking officers being built first.
Pictorial Walk of Officers Row
Pictorial Walk of Officers Row
Introduction to Officers Row
Self Guided Tour of Officers Row
Marshall House Lecture Series
Marshall House Date Line
Officers Row Puzzles and Officers Row Ecards
Introduction to Officers Row
Tour Officers Row
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Information panels like the one above are placed at significant spots along the walkway of Officers Row allowing visitors to conduct a tour at their convenience.
Guided tours at the Marshall House are temporarily suspended but check for updated status.
Officers Row – The family life that made a difference
The homes on Officers Row at Fort Vancouver are more than a collection of buildings built in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) lists over a million such places in the United States but of that huge number only 89 are listed as National Historic sites. Fort Vancouver is one of the 89 with Officers Row being a significant imprint of that significance.
Each home and the families that lived in them contributed in no insignificant way to the life and time of U.S. Army history in the Pacific Northwest. The role of the family is often overlooked when studying wars and conflicts, disasters and changes that molded and shaped our nation. But the truth is that behind every leading officer of war and individual battles where valor and courage played, wives and children played an important part.
Officers Row is a tribute to army life
It is within the home that love and trust, encouragement, acceptance and even forgiveness create a canvas, a supporting base for larger splashes of militant color to be forever painted in time.
The fight and struggle to improve the life of one’s country is a big and noble idea but that struggle requires a heart centered reason as well that impels one to move forward through fears and pain that courageous moments demand.
Courage and valor in fact are often centered upon a single human face where love connects, strengthens and lives. The tender touch of a spouse, the clutching and never let go embrace of a child and other family members is always and will always be a necessary base for military valor.
Of course there are friendships on the battlefield that will never be forgotten but it’s the home that one returns to at the end of the hard encounters that allows one to breathe again and live again for another day. Social life as well as military duties must blend to make up a healthy soldier’s life.
The first house that was built (now called the Grant House) was a log house built by soldiers in 1849 for the Post Commander’s residence and army headquarters. Over the years the building would be used for many different purposes until it was deeded to the City of Vancouver in 1980 by the Vancouver School District.
See The Grant House: First Army Headquarters in the Northwest a NPS.gov article that gives a capsulated history with a great picture of Grant House taken in 1860.
Marshall House: The Crown Jewel of Officers Row
This lovely Queen Anne home built in 1886 for a cost of $10,000 ( a comparative price of $255,000 today) was built for the commanding officer, General John Gibbons of Vancouver Barracks. There were fifteen rooms, six baths and nine fireplaces.
The commanding officer’s residence was of course much more than a family home. It was a place for welcoming high ranking guests and important figures of the day. General Marshall and his family lived here for 20 months during which time he was in command of the Department of the Columbia (July 1885 – April 1891) overseeing all posts in the Pacific Northwest.
NPS Marshall House (very informative article) shared this:
Upon arrival at Vancouver Barracks, Marshall indicated that “our house is the most attractive I have seen in the Army.” He also commented on the “very old” cherry tree in the front yard, and the 65 varieties of roses and nearly 200 other plants in its gardens.NPS Marshall House
Partial Date Line of the Marshall House
1885-87 – Brigadier General John Gibbons
1936 – 1937 General George C. Marshall
1938- 1948 Quarters for Field Officers, and Bachelors Officers’ Quarters (World War II).
1948 – American Red Cross (Vanport Flood)
1967 – House named for General Marshall
1974 – Listed on National Register of Historic Places
1985 – Listed on Clark County Heritage Register
1983 – City of Vancouver, Marshall House Restaurant (briefly) Displays of traveling art and museum exhibits
Currently: Business offices in portions of the building, open to the public for tours and special events in other parts of the building.
A granite plaque in front of the building gives a brief history:
GEORGE C MARSHALL HOUSE
This house in named for its most famous occupant, George C. Marshall.
The Marshall family lived in the house from 1936 to 1938, when they hosted the unexpected crew of the Soviet Trans-Polar flight.
President Roosevelt visited in the 1930’s.
The Vancouver Red Cross headquartered here in the 1940’s and the internationally acclaimed Art Exhibit showed here in 1986.
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
Donated by Vancouver Granite Works
The house has been restored with “period furnishings, military memorabilia, and an interpretation of Marshall’s study” Historic Trust. The house is open to the public and Historic Tours scheduled or by appointment are available. Weddings and other venues can be scheduled through Historic Trust Properties.
More information is available from the National Park Service.
A number of important lectures have been given at the Marshall House ranging from a talk by the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates to Tom Brokaw (NBC Nightly News 1983-2004) to a Marshall biographer. 18 of these have been recorded and are available for viewing through the Historic Trust lecture page.
Free Online Resources
NPS History: Historical Overview of Vancouver Barracks [pdf 201 pages] See Section Two: Cultural Transitions: Women and the Army in the Northwest, 1849-1865
Available at Fort Vancouver Gift Shop
Army Letters from an Officer’s Wife 1871-1888 Frances Marie Antoinette Mack Roe [Available at Fort Vancouver Book Store and as a Public Domain book] – Although the author never lives in Vancouver her recounts in Montana and other Northwest places in that time period are intriguing.
Free Online Jigsaw Puzzles and Ecards