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Clara Barton National Historic Site

Clara Barton National Historic Site

5801 Oxford Road
Glen Echo, Maryland 20812

Phone
Main Phone number
(301) 320-1410
GWMP - Park Headquarters
(703) 289-2500

Explore the Clara Barton National Historic Site

Clara Barton National Historic Site commemorates the life of Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross. The home served as the headquarters and warehouse for the organization. The house is shown by guided tour only. Tours start on the hour between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. There is no admission charge. The site is open daily but closed on Thanksgiving Day, December 25 and January 1.

Direction:

Clara Barton National Historic Site is located at 5801 Oxford Road, Glen Echo, Maryland 20812 off of MacArthur Boulevard adjacent to Glen Echo Park. Glen Echo, Maryland is a suburb of Washington, D.C. near the Bethesda/Rockville areas of Maryland and Arlington/McLean/Tysons Corner areas of Virginia. The following directions from Virginia and Maryland bring you to the site from I-495 the Capital Beltway.

The Clara Barton National Historic Site, which includes the Clara Barton House, was established in 1974 to interpret the life of Clara Barton (1821-1912), an American pioneer teacher, nurse, and humanitarian who was the founder of the American Red Cross. The site is located 2 miles northwest of Washington D.C. in Glen Echo, Maryland.

The United States National Historic Site protects 9 acres of land at her Glen Echo home including the 38-room former residence of Barton. The site is managed by the George Washington Memorial Parkway. 

The first national historic site dedicated to the accomplishments of a woman, it preserves the early history of the American Red Cross and the last home of its founder. Clara Barton spent the last 15 years of her life in her Glen Echo home, and it served as an early headquarters of the American Red Cross as well.

The National Park Service has restored eleven rooms, including the Red Cross offices, parlors and Clara Barton's bedroom. Visitors to Clara Barton National Historic Site can gain a sense of how Barton lived and worked surrounded by all that went into her life's work. Visitors to the site are led through the three levels on a guided tour emphasizing Barton's use of her unusual home. In 2005, 12,529 visitors toured the site.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

Clara Barton

Clarissa Harlowe Barton (December 25, 1821 � April 12, 1912) was a pioneer American teacher, nurse, and humanitarian. She has been described as having a "strong and independent spirit" and is best remembered for organizing the American Red Cross.

Clarissa Harlowe Barton was born on Christmas day, 1821, in Oxford, Massachusetts, to Stephen and Sarah Barton. She was the youngest of five children. Clara's father was a farmer and horse breeder, while her mother Sarah managed the household. The two later helped found the first Universalist Church in Oxford.

In April 1862, after the First Battle of Bull Run, Barton established an agency to obtain and distribute supplies to wounded soldiers. She was given a pass by General William Hammond to ride in army ambulances to provide comfort to the soldiers and nurse them back to health and lobbied the U.S. Army bureaucracy, at first without success, to bring her own medical supplies to the battlefields. 

Finally, in July 1862, she obtained permission to travel behind the lines, eventually reaching some of the grimmest battlefields of the war and serving during the Siege of Petersburg and Richmond, Virginia. In 1864 she was appointed by Union General Benjamin Franklin Butler (politician) as the "lady in charge" of the hospitals at the front of the Army of the James.

Barton at first dedicated the American Red Cross to performing disaster relief, such as after the 1893 Sea Islands Hurricane. This changed with the advent of the Spanish-American War during which it aided refugees and prisoners of war. 

In 1896, responding to the humanitarian crisis in the Ottoman Empire in the aftermath of the Hamidian Massacres, Barton sailed to Istanbul and after long negotiations with Abdul Hamid II, opened the first American International Red Cross headquarters in the heart of Beijing, China. Barton herself traveled along with five other Red Cross expeditions to the Armenian provinces in the spring of 1896. 

Barton also worked in hospitals in Cuba in 1898 at the age of seventy-seven.  As criticism arose of her management of the American Red Cross, plus her advancing age, Barton resigned as president in 1904, at the age of 83.

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