Fort Myer

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Fort Myer Historic District
Wright-Fort Myer.jpg
Orville Wright flying at Fort Myer, September 9, 1908
Fort Myer is located in District of Columbia
Fort Myer
Location Arlington County, Virginia
Coordinates 38°52′49″N 77°04′47″W / 38.880343°N 77.079735°W / 38.880343; -77.079735Coordinates: 38°52′49″N 77°04′47″W / 38.880343°N 77.079735°W / 38.880343; -77.079735
Built 1887
Architect US Army
Architectural style Late Victorian
NRHP reference # 72001380
VLR # 000-0004
Significant dates
Added to NRHP November 28, 1972[2]
Designated NHLD November 28, 1972[3]
Designated VLR June 19, 1973[1]

Fort Myer is the previous name used for a U.S. Army post next to Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, and across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. Founded during the American Civil War as Fort Whipple, the post merged in 2005 with the neighboring Marine Corps installation, Henderson Hall, and is today named Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.


In 1861, the land that Fort Myer would eventually use was part of the Custis-Lee Family Plantation that Robert E. Lee and his wife Mary Custis Lee owned and lived at when not stationed elsewhere. After the Civil War began, the State of Virginia seceeded, Lee resigned his commission, and they evacuated the Mansion. The Plantation was confiscated by the United States Government and included a Freeman's Village and began use as a cemetery for the Union dead: eventually becoming Arlington National Cemetery.

Fort Myer was established as Fort Whipple, after Brevet Major General Amiel Weeks Whipple, who died in May 1863, during the Civil War. It had a perimeter of 658 yards, and places for 43 guns.[4] Whipple Field was named in his honor.

On Feb. 4, 1881, the post was renamed for Brigadier General Albert J. Myer, who established the Signal School of Instruction for Army and Navy Officers there in 1869. Since then it has been a Signal Corps post, a showcase for the US Army's cavalry, and, since the 1940s, home to the US Army's elite ceremonial units — The US Army Band ("Pershing's Own") and the US Army's 3rd Infantry Regiment ("The Old Guard").

The National Weather Service was originated there by General Albert J. Myer in 1870.[5]

Fort Myer was the site of the first flight of an aircraft at a military installation. Several exhibition flights by Orville Wright took place there in 1908 and 1909. On September 18, 1908 it became the location of the first aviation fatality, as Lt. Thomas Selfridge was killed when on a demonstration flight with Orville, at an altitude of about 100 feet (30 m), a propeller split, sending the aircraft out of control. Selfridge suffered a concussion in the crash and later died, the first person to die in powered fixed-wing aircraft. Orville was badly injured, suffering broken ribs and a leg.

Quarters One on Fort Myer, which was originally built as the garrison commander's quarters, has been the home of the Chief of Staff of the United States Army since 1908 when Major General J. Franklin Bell took up residence. It has been the home of every succeeding Chief of Staff, except for General John J. Pershing.

The first radio telecommunications NAA was at Fort Myer in 1913. The US Navy built "The Three Sisters" which were three radio towers that established the first communication across the sea to Paris, France in 1915.[6]

During World War I, Fort Myer was a staging area for a large number of engineering, artillery, and chemical companies and regiments. The area of Fort Myer now occupied by Andrew Rader Health Clinic and the Commissary were made into a trench-system training grounds where French officers taught the Americans about trench warfare.

General George S. Patton Jr., who was posted at Fort Myer four different times, started the charitable "Society Circus" after World War I.[7] He ultimately was Post Commander and commanded the 3rd Cavalry Regiment that was stationed at Fort Myer from the 1920s to 1942 when the regiment was sent to Georgia to get mechanized.[8]

In late 2001, troops, deployed in response to the September 11th attacks, were bivouacked at Fort Myer. These troops were under Operation Noble Eagle.[9] These included both active and National Guard Military Police units from around the nation. In 2005 the last remaining deployed responders were demobilized.[10]

As a result of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission initiative to create more efficiency of efforts, the Army’s Fort Myer and the Marines’ Henderson Hall became the first Joint Base in the Department of Defense. Joint Base Myer–Henderson Hall (JBMHH) consists of military installations at Fort Myer, Virginia, Crystal City, The Pentagon, Fort McNair, the District of Columbia, and Henderson Hall – Headquarters Marine Corps, Virginia. These installations and departments serve over 150,000 active duty, DoD civilian, and retired military personnel in the region.[11]


The fort was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1972, for its well-preserved concentration of cavalry facilities and officers' quarters, and for its importance in military aviation history.[12] On September 1, 1970, the United States Postal Service issued its first day cover of a postcard celebrating the 100th anniversary of Weather Services at Fort Myer.

On June 13, 2011, the first book written about this US Army Post was published, Images of America: Fort Myer, which contains a newly found, first-time published note from Abraham Lincoln which established the connection with General Whipple.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved 2013-05-12. 
  2. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  3. ^ "Fort Myer Historic District". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on July 10, 2014. Retrieved 2008-06-26. 
  4. ^ Cooling III, Benjamin Franklin; Owen II, Walton H. (6 October 2009). Mr. Lincoln's Forts: A Guide to the Civil War Defenses of Washington. Scarecrow Press. pp. 101–103. ISBN 978-0-8108-6307-1. 
  5. ^ Grice, Ed., Gary K. "THE BEGINNING OF THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE: THE SIGNAL YEARS (1870 - 1891) AS VIEWED BY EARLY WEATHER PIONEERS; Chapter: Evolution to the Signal Service Years (1600-1891)". NOAA's National Weather Service Public Affairs Office. Retrieved 4 January 2014. 
  6. ^ "ARL-030". Virginia Historical Marker. Retrieved December 13, 2013. 
  7. ^ Michael, John (20 April 2011). "Society Circus on Fort Myer Virginia Between Wars". Ft. Myer, VA: Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  8. ^ Blumenson, Martin (1971). "The Many Faces of George S. Patton, Jr" (PDF). USAFA Harmon Memorial Lecture #14. Colorado Springs, Colorado: United States Air Force Academy. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-11-15. 
  9. ^ Operation Noble Eagle
  10. ^ Campbell, Jeffrey. "Specialist". 144th Military Police Company. Department of Defense. Retrieved 2 June 2011. 
  11. ^ "Myer-Henderson Hall | The United States Army". Archived from the original on 2012-07-11. Retrieved 2014-01-11. 
  12. ^ "NHL nomination for Fort Myers Historic District". National Park Service. Retrieved 2016-01-25. 
  13. ^ Michael, John (1 Jan 2010). "About Historic Fort Myer Virginia". Ft. Myer, VA: Retrieved 5 June 2013. 

External links[edit]