District of Columbia War Memorial

The District of Columbia War Memorial was constructed in West Potomac Park in 1931 to honor residents of DC who served in World War I.

The District of Columbia War Memorial was constructed in 1931, following a five-year-long campaign by the DC community to raise money for a memorial that would honor the 26,000 residents who served (and the 499 who died) in World War I. It was designed by local architects and planned to encourage public remembrance of those who served.

For many Americans, the “War to End All Wars” was the first time in the country’s history where soldiers were sent abroad to fight. Millions of Americans served their country, and by the end of the war, it was estimated that the U.S. suffered an estimated 320,000 casualties (204,000 wounded and 116,000 dead). In the years following the war, thousands of memorials were erected all over the world. A month after the war’s end, Washingtonians were already submitting letters to the United States Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) to design and construct a memorial for the city’s veterans and fallen soldiers.

The design selected for the memorial came from Frederick H. Brooke. He was a local architect based in DC and a veteran of WWI himself. His plan was “a circular, open-air Corinthian temple surrounded by a stepped base” with a domed roof. The columns sit atop a raised base with two sets of steps leading up to the floor level of the structure. It was designed with the dual purpose of being both a war memorial and a bandstand—it is large enough to accommodate an eighty-piece band. The Memorial is surrounded by a circular terrace of blue stone paving with parallel blue stone paths bordering lawn panels, extending north to Ash Road and south to Independence Avenue. The structure is surrounded by open lawn, flanked on the east and west sides by Ash Woods, a large grove of trees that consists primarily of elm, maple, beech, and oak.

Nominated by the National Park Service.

DC Inventory: May 23, 2013
National Register: July 11, 2014



West Potomac Park