Clara Barton home to close for renovations in 2015
GLEN ECHO, Md. (AP) — Last chance to learn about the Angel of the Battlefield, Clara Barton, before the house where she lived and ran the American Red Cross closes indefinitely for renovations.
The National Park site is closing in early 2015 to repair extensive water damage. It will also be closed for at least a week beginning Monday to pack up furniture and other artifacts, then will reopen for tours in November until early in the new year.
While the remaining tours will be conducted in an unfurnished building, the structure itself is noteworthy and the free guided tours tell an interesting story.
Barton was invited to live in Glen Echo by the developers of a local Chautauqua community, part of a movement devoted to cultural and educational pursuits. The developers thought having a celebrity live there would help attract others. Barton was famous for her service during the Civil War caring for soldiers, which led her to found the American Red Cross. By the time the house was built in 1891, the Red Cross had provided humanitarian relief for 13 disasters, including the historic Johnstown Flood in Pennsylvania, which killed more than 2,000 people in 1889.
Barton agreed to come to Glen Echo if the house was built to her specifications. It had 34 rooms and served as a warehouse for the Red Cross before she moved the organization’s headquarters to the building in 1897. She also lived there until her death at age 90 in 1912, and housed staff there. Its noteworthy features include red-and-white stained-glass windows depicting the Red Cross symbol. Ceilings were lined with the cotton muslin material used for bandages.
Barton resigned from the Red Cross in 1904 at age 82. She devoted the rest of her life to promoting first-aid education.
The Chautauqua community, meanwhile, failed and the site was turned into an amusement park. The park closed in 1968 but today it is also a National Park site, run with the Glen Echo Park Partnership for the Arts and Culture/Montgomery County. Buildings today house everything from a carousel to art classes.
If You Go...
CLARA BARTON NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE: Check website or call for resumption of free hourly tours in early November; http://www.nps.gov/clba/ or 301-320-1410. Site will be closed indefinitely in early 2015 for renovations.