Oldest VA Facilities
The three oldest VA facilities that are currently operating are Togus in ME (1866), Dayton in OH (1867), and Milwaukee, WI (1867). These three started out as National Homes for Disabled Veteran Soldiers and became part of the VA system in the 1920s with the development of the Veterans Bureau.
Unusual VA Properties:
VA owns many facilities with interesting history. For example the oldest VA owned structure is old water driven mill, built about 1735 on the bank of the Susquehanna River in Perry Point, Maryland. Elegant Dewey House at VA’s North Chicago, Illinois, hospital was built by noted Congressman and Treasury under secretary Charles Dewey, who also standardized the size and design of today’s money.
At Lebanon, Pennsylvania, VA hospital, a Pennsylvania Dutch stone farmhouse and outbuildings remain from its earlier use as a farm.
The Gothic stone Smyth Tower at the Manchester, New Hampshire, VA Medical Center was the hideaway retreat of former New Hampshire Governor Fredrick Smyth, who later served on the Board of Managers of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, a predecessor agency of VA.
Kit Carson Chapel at the VA Medical Center in Fort Lyon, Colorado was built from the rubble of the fort building in which the famed cowboy died.
Two 1905 buildings remain from a School for the Blind and later Home for Inebriates at Knoxville, Iowa, VA Medical Center.
VA even maintains the airplane hanger at Hines, Illinois, used by aviator Charles Lindbergh. Formerly the Checkerboard Airfield, from there, he inaugurated the airmail postal service from Chicago to St. Louis.
VA’s newest and most recent acquisition from Congress is Pershing Hall in Paris, France, built in 1882 by the Count of Paris who was the Bourbon pretender to the French crown. The American Legion for a memorial bought the town home to General John Pershing and the World War I American Expeditionary Forces.
VA’s Headquarters Building site across Lafayette Square from the White House in Washington, D.C. came with a great history. Prior to 1869, the grand town homes of high government officials and Presidents James Buchanan and Benjamin Harrison were located there. In 1918, a new office building was built, and the Treasury Department bought it for their veterans programs that eventually became VA.
Additional sources of VA History:
A Brief History of the VA
Article about the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers
History of VA Healthcare
VA History Highlights