A walk to remember
By Mr Kevin Stabinsky (IMCOM)
July 25, 2011
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Some people may still not know where their steps will lead once Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem close, but one can retrace the footsteps of the past on Fort McPherson in less than 30 minutes on a walking tour through the historic district on the installation. Come take the tour through the following photos and captions in this week’s Sentinel.
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Stop 1: Hodges Hall The post headquarters, Hodges Hall, was built in 1904 as a double barracks at a cost of $55,000. It was built in a horseshoe shape, and unlike other barracks buildings across Hedekin Field (stop 12), does not have the standard 30-foot interval between barracks. The building was named in honor of Gen. Courtney Hodges, commander of Third United States Army and First United States Army during World War II. Today, the building serves as the Garrison Headquarters building and houses directorates such as the Directorate of Plans, Training Mobilization and Security, The Directorate of Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation, the Garrison Public Affairs Office, the School Liaison Office, the Directorate of Resource Management among others.
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Stop 2: Troop Row Construction of Troop Row began in 1889 at the east end with Building 56. All of the buildings, with the exception of Building 60, which sits in the center of the row, were designed as double barracks. Building 60 was designed as a triple barracks. The average cost of the buildings was $26,000. The buildings were replaced as barracks by the Audie Murphy Barracks Complex (Bldgs. 475, 476, 477) in 1998. Troop Row was converted into office space in 1999.
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Stop 4: Lawrence Joel Troop Medical Clinic The original post hospital, General Hospital No. 6, was built between 1886 and 1889 at a cost of $11,414. During World War I, the hospital was so important the post was commanded by the senior ranking medical officer. Between August 1917 and December 1918, more than 10,000 Soldiers were admitted to the hospital. During both world wars, many of the surrounding buildings, including Troop Row (stop 2) were used as hospital wards. In 1977, the building was replaced by a clinic. The majority of the building was converted to administrative space. In January 1998, the Lawrence Joel United States Army Health and Dental Clinic was dedicated in honor of Medal of Honor winner Lawrence Joel, who was awarded his Medal of Honor for heroism in a battle with the Viet Cong Nov. 8, 1965. The clinic reduced its services last year, becoming the Lawrence Joel Troop Medical Clinic. The clinic closed July 15.
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Stop 5: Public Safety The three buildings comprising the public safety offices, Bldg. 100, 101 and 102, were completed in 1898, 1893 and 1889, respectively. The first two were storehouses for the commissary and the quartermaster, while Bldg. 102 was the post bakery. This bakery contained three rooms and two ovens that were used to bake bread. Tokens were used as a means of ration control at the bakery. Each of these tokens could be redeemed for one loaf of bread. Today, the buildings are used by the Office of Public Safety and house the Provost Marshall and his staff.
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Stop 6: Old post fire house Built in 1918 as the post fire house, it had the capacity for one truck and seven beds. The brickwork covering the vehicle entrance can be seen in the insert photo. The building later saw use as a post office, beginning in 1941.
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Stop 7: Post Chapel Center Construction was completed on this one-story, brick facility, which served as a guardhouse and post prison, in 1893 at a reported cost of $13,000. The main floor provided rooms for the Officer of the Guard, NCOs of the guard force and members of the guard. Space was also provided for a prison room with two cages for prisoners, six single cells for garrison prisoners and water closets for both the prisoners and guards. In 1949, it was converted into the post Central Telephone Exchange. Its final function was as the Garrison Chapel Center, which housed the garrison chaplain and his staff.
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Stop 8: Recreation Center Built in 1918 by the Red Cross, the building served as a convalescent center for hospital patients. The building was built in the shape of a Maltese cross. In 1919, the building was taken over by the Army, which converted it into a service club. It continued to serve as a service club until closure last year and at one point, was the oldest Army service club still in use and operating in its original structure.
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Stop 9: Pershing Hall The original bachelor officer's quarters was completed in 1904. It was originally given the number 16 to incorporate the structure with the number system used for the 19 quarters on Staff Row (stop 11). This is the reason there is no Quarters 16 on Staff Row. The building is named in honor of General of the Armies of the United States, John "Blackjack" Pershing. Pershing served as the commander-in-chief of the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I and later as the Army chief of staff.
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Stop 10: Van Horn Hall Originally the post headquarters, the two-story building was completed in 1889. In 1893, $17 was approved to install electric bells and connections in the building to facilitate communication. Thus, the first known "intercom" system was installed on post. The building is named in honor of Brig. Gen. Robert Van Horn, who served as post commander from January 1934 until August 1940, the longest post commander's tour in the installation's history. In 1957, the building became the home of the Staff Judge Advocate.
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Stop 11: Staff Row Staff Row consists of 19 officer quarters, four of which are single-Family residences. The other 15 are duplexes. The quarters were built between 1891 and 1910 at an average cost of $15,000. The final home built on Staff Row is the residency of the post commander. The small lot required it be built as a single-Family unit.
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Stop 12: Hedekin Field Staff Row faces the post parade ground, Hedekin Field, which was originally a polo field. The field is named in honor of Capt. David Drew Hedekin, an avid polo player who commanded the garrison Headquarters Company from 1936 until 1938. Hedekin was fatally injured while playing in a polo tournament at Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., on July 17, 1938. He died there three days later in July 20. A monument to Hedekin is located on the edge of the field across from Quarters 12.
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Stop 13: Quarters 10 Quarters 10 is the centerpiece of Staff Row. Originally known as the Commandants Quarters, it is home to the Commanding General of U.S. Army Forces Command. Completed in 1892, the three-story home has 12-foot-high ceilings on the first floor, 11-foot-high ceilings on the second, and semicircular windows in the turret. A sleeping porch was added to the back of the quarters in 1935 for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who visited here en route to Warm Springs, Ga.
With the addition of a new dog to the household, I’ve begun walking more often. To keep things fresh, I’ve been looking at different routes to keep not only myself entertained, but also Spartacus, my dog.
In doing so, I picked up a pamphlet prepared by the Garrison Public Affairs Office (PAO) detailing a walking tour around Fort McPherson. The tour, which only takes about 30 minutes to walk, nevertheless takes people through Fort McPherson’s 126 year history, taking them on a sightseeing endeavor. Armed with the pamphlet, people can learn about the storied past of some of Fort McPherson’s oldest buildings and how they have changed over the years, not only in function, but sometimes in name and appearance.
With Fort McPherson scheduled to close in less than two months (and with many individuals duties decreasing), now is a perfect time to enjoy the summer weather and take a stroll through Fort McPherson’s past, take some pictures and make some memories before it is all gone.
Information for this story comes from the Fort McPherson Walking Tour pamphlet available at the Fort McPherson PAO at the Garrison Headquarters (Bldg. 65). The pamphlet was prepared by the Garrison PAO.
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