National VA History Center
National VA History Center update: January 2022
We are excited to report that the stabilization phase of work on the two historic buildings slated for the National VA History Center is complete. Stabilization phase work included ensuring foundations, roofs, and other structural elements are stable and prepared for the next phase – infrastructure renovation. This phase will begin in spring 2022 with the Old Headquarters building. Infrastructure renovation will include updating mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, as well as certain additional infrastructure features. The Old Headquarters and will take 12-18 months to complete the phase. The Clubhouse is tentatively scheduled for this second phase of work in spring 2023.
Located on the Dayton VA Medical Center campus, the National VA History Center (NVAHC) will occupy two historic buildings: the Old Headquarters (Building 116 - picture to the right) and the Clubhouse (Building 129 - picture below). The two buildings are some of the oldest on the 450-acre campus, dating to 1871 and 1881, respectively. Initial work to stabilize and prepare the buildings has started and will ultimately allow the structures to be fully renovated to recognized standards for archival and museum use (appropriate humidity control, reduced natural light exposure, security and fire systems, etc.).
The cost of the final phase build out of the NVAHC will be provided through fundraising by the VA History Center Foundation, established in 2017 as part of an agreement between VA and Dayton community leaders. Based on the pace of private fundraising by the Foundation, receipt of grants, or other dedicated funding partnerships, the NVAHC forecasted opening will be in 2025-26.
Once complete, the NVAHC will be the central location for seminal artifacts and archives of historic significance from across hundreds of VA locations. The site will provide storage, preservation, and access to these materials, as well as a museum and education center. The project will include a robust online access to digitized materials for researchers, writers, and scholars, and virtual museum exhibits available to the public.
The unique Dayton campus was founded as one of the original branches of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers to serve Union Civil War Veterans. The campus includes numerous historical sites, the Dayton National Cemetery, the 1870 Protestant Chapel, and the restored grotto gardens. The chapel and the grotto were built by the Veterans who resided on the campus in the late 19th century. The Dayton National Cemetery is the final resting place for Veterans whose services date from the Revolutionary War to the present. A unique Victorian-era Funeral Tunnel once linked the National Home to the Cemetery, and the entrance of the tunnel is another of the Dayton campus sites of historic interest.
As the National VA History Center's collection increases, the Curator will write blog posts to get behind the scenes on the progress and items that are coming in daily. Check out the Curator's Corner to stay up to date. These posts will also be put in the GovDelivery service that can be subscribed to on the Welcome Page at the top.
To learn more about the Dayton VA Medical Center campus and “visit” the Funeral Tunnel and other historic sites referenced above, explore the virtual historic campus tour at Dayton VAMC museum site.
Interior of Building 116 the Old Headquarters, 1871.
Exterior view of Building 129, the Clubhouse, as Veterans march by in 1871.
Exterior view of Building 116, the Old Headquarters, as seen from a postcard.
Note: All photos and images from the Dayton VAMC archives or National VA History Center.