During a recent meeting on Devens, the fate of the former Red Cross building was discussed. Reportedly, the building is in poor repair. Situated on the corner of Barnum Road, its location is prime.
Fort Devens was one of the first military installations in which a Red Cross headquarters was located in 1941. Any chance that the building will be saved appears to be up to the Red Cross itself. A letter stating so has likely already been sent to the organization by MassDevelopment.
Norman H. Davis, chairman of the Red Cross, said that the buildings would enable the organization ‘to carry out its Congressional charter obligation of maintaining liaison between the military and civilian populations.'”
While the building seems important, it is really its history that deserves a place of record. Thousands of soldiers were aided from that building. One example is Gene King, of Pepperell.
Mr. King was born in Kansas City, Missouri. Nearing the end of his year’s deployment to Vietnam, when asked his preference for assignment, the city boy requested New York City. Imagine his surprise when he landed at Fort Devens.
Two weeks after his arrival, he received a call from his sergeant: His father had died and there was a plane ticket waiting for him at the Red Cross building. While the sudden death of his 50-something father was a shock, you can be sure that the airline ticket allowing him to go home was a welcome gift.
Despite what happens to the majestic white building on the corner of Barnum and Jackson roads, whose red cross long ago disappeared from above its front door, the history of the part it played in the lives of so many far from home will likely go on.
Thanks to the efforts of the Fort Devens Museum, the key role the Red Cross played in the fort’s history will be duly recorded, regardless of what happens to the handsome building on the corner.