World War One was a watershed in American history. The United States' decision to join the battle in 1917 "to make the world safe for democracy" proved pivotal in securing allied victory — a victory that would usher in the American Century.
In the war's aftermath, individuals, towns, cities, counties, and states all felt compelled to mark the war, as did colleges, businesses, clubs, associations, veterans groups, and houses of worship. Thousands of memorials—from simple honor rolls, to Doughboy sculptures, to grandiose architectural ensembles—were erected throughout the US in the 1920s and 1930s, blanketing the American landscape.
Each of these memorials, regardless of size or expense, has a story. But sadly, as we enter the war's centennial period, these memorials and their very purpose—to honor in perpetuity the more than four million Americans who served in the war and the more than 116,000 who were killed—have largely been forgotten. And while many memorials are carefully tended, others have fallen into disrepair through neglect, vandalism, or theft. Some have been destroyed. Watch this CBS news video on the plight of these monuments.
The extant memorials are our most salient material links in the US to the war. They afford a vital window onto the conflict, its participants, and those determined to remember them. Rediscovering the memorials and the stories they tell will contribute to their physical and cultural rehabilitation—a fitting commemoration of the war and the sacrifices it entailed.
This interactive database provides location and all other available information on known World War One monuments and memorials. Do you know of a World War One Monument or Memorial that is not listed in our database? Do you see incorrect information listed for one of the sites? Do you have photos of one of our listed sites that you want to contribute? Click here to submit the relevant information for inclusion in the database.
120 One Way Street
Hassell T. Hicks, architect
The Kimball World War Memorial was the first memorial built in the United States to honor African-American veterans of World War I. The Classical Revival style building designed by noted West Virginia architect Hassel T. Hicks of Welch was completed in 1928 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993. The War Memorial became the headquarters of the nation’s first all-black American Legion Post and hosted some of the state’s first NAACP meetings.
Unknown today by many Americans, over 400,000 African Americans volunteered to serve in combat during the Great War. 50,000 of these soldiers actually served overseas-one-third of the total U.S. fighting forces-and 1,500 of these came from McDowell County. While discriminatory military practices were still prevalent, when allowed to fight, these black soldiers did so with honor, demonstrating their valor in combat with French forces at the Battles of Argonne, Chateau Thierry, St. Mihies, Champagne, Vosges, and Metz, for which 171 were awarded the Croix de Guerre for “gallantry in action”. 1,300 were eventually commissioned as officers in the U.S. Military for their service during World War I.
The War Memorial was designed in the classical Greek style by Hassell T. Hicks, a noted Welch architect, also a World War I veteran, and was dedicated on February 11, 1928. Originally the building housed an auditorium with a small stage, a library, meeting rooms, kitchen facilities, a billiard room and a trophy room, with displays of plaques dedicated to veterans, and wartime memorabilia. It was a multi-purpose facility, hosting such diverse activities as American Legion meetings, high school proms, wedding receptions, and performances by Cab Calloway and other well-known entertainers of the day.
Over time, deterioration, abandonment and finally a fire in 1991 crippled the beautiful structure, leaving only its exterior shell.
For over 30 years, a group of citizens had been pursuing the dream of restoring the Memorial to its former glory. With the financial and other support of many, the dream became a reality. The memorial was the recipient of a 2007 Honor Award presented to by the West Virginia Chapter of the America Institute of Architects and was also featured in the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s forum as a Preservation Solution. The Memorial was also honored in 2006 with a Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Braintrust Award.
Presently, The Kimball World War Memorial was serves as a living community resource and is available for a wide variety of functions, including tours, training sessions, classes, organizational meetings, organizational dinners and receptions as well as social events.
The two-story, light-brick building stands on a sturdy cut-stone foundation. Its plan is a rectangular box with a small entrance vestibule on the east side. The facade faces south and displays a monumental classical portico centered in the middle. Four terra cotta columns stand on brick bases and support a tall terra cotta entablature. Laurel reliefs decorate the frieze section over each column. A band of dentils extends across the portico just under the cornice. Historic photographs of the building reveal a terra cotta extension over the entablature that held the words "World War Memorial". This section of the entablature has crumbled and no longer displays the building's name. A simple terra cotta parapet at the roofline flanks the centered portico and extends along the other two sides of the building.
Three pairs of door openings stand between the columns and open onto a shallow balcony, each separated by the columns' brick bases. The original doors were wood-framed, multipaned double doors with metal-framed transoms. On the second level centered over each doorway are tall, metal-framed multipaned windows in arched openings. flanking the portico are single multipaned windows on each level.
The Memorial Building's main entrance stands on the east side behind an entrance vestibule that has an arched opening. Concrete stairs with wrought iron railings ascend from the street level to the entrance. An arched window identical to the windows on the facade, is located directly above the entrance. The rear of the building holds two second-level doorways that open at ground level to the steep grade behind. The building's west side simply has a narrow chimney and two windows on each level.
World War Memorial in the Mid-City (ish) area of Los Angeles at the southwest corner of Adams and La Brea on a traffic island. From the street, it's mostly hidden by a metro stop girder. Originally erected in 1936 by the now defunct, Greayer Clover American Legion Post. Inscription reads:
SONS AND DAUGHTERS
WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES
IN THE CAUSE OF
THE WORLD WAR
Sometime after '45 it was obviously rededicated, but no one seems to know when.
This traffic island was referred to as "Memorial Isle" in the LA Times Archives, and there would be small services there every Memorial and Armistice/Veterans Days. Surrounding patrons used to send the American Legion flowers to display The dirt (which seems to be gone...the, what I assume was, nice top soil is now just a rough grain of sandy stuff) was donated from "US Veterans cemeteries around the world", - we are unsure if these were from ABMC run cemeteries or part of the National Cemetery system.
Corner of La Brea and Adams
Los Angeles, CA, 90016
Probably the most used, lived on, and spoken of WWI memorial in Los Angeles...that very few are aware is a memorial.
As the LA Times article from 1924 trumpets "Victory Boulevard finds its name in a practical memorial to the soldiery of our country." This was a major thoroughfare in those early Valley days. It was even referred to as a "highway" and the LAT called other Victory memorial roads elsewhere "insignificant in comparison."
Victory boulevard begins in Glendale, CA and runs across the San Fernando Valley ending 22.5 miles later at the headland of a large park in Woodland Hills.
Naming roads and bridges after the war was not unique to our city. Streets termed "Avenue of the Allies", and thoroughfares named Pershing, or Foch are not uncommon across the USA. Like our Victory Boulevard, few remember the reason behind their designations.
Lakeview Cemetery WWI Memorial - Quincy
This Stone and brass memorial commemorates the WWI soldiers from Quincy. There is a flagpole, but no flag.
The plaque reads:
University of North Alabama, 1 Harrison Plaza
February 28, 1919
"On February 20, 1919, a row of memorial trees was planted along the east side of what was then Seminary Street (now Harrison Entrance) on city property fronting two new State Normal School dormitories. These trees were planted in honor of the men of Lauderdale County who gave their lives during World War I. On April 20, 1919, an additional tree from the battlefields of France, sent by the President of that country, was planted shortly thereafter. This monument was erected near the trees. The monument was removed from its original location to this site and rededicated on November 9, 2002. The 40 men from Lauderdale County who lost their lives during World War I are listed on a monument in front of the American Legion Building at 318 South Court Street, and at the Veterans Memorial on South Cox Creek Parkway, Florence." -the above text was taken from the historical marker.
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In 1907, the city of Atlantic City joined with the famous New York architecture firm of Carrere & Hastings in a plan for a civic monument. Delayed by US involvement in World War I, in 1919, the city decided the monument should be built in honor and memory of city residents who served in the war.
Designed in the Greek tholos form, the circular structure reaches 124’ in diameter and features 16 Doric columns made of Indiana limestone. Paving between the columns is bluestone & slate. The monument’s frieze depicts the name of battles in which Atlantic City men fought.
There are four medallions (Army, Navy, Marines & Aviation) that alternate around the circumference of the frieze. The battles in which Atlantic City men fought are inscribed upon the architrave.
The monument was dedicated in 1923.
Narrative adapted from "Greek Temple Monument," The Atlantic City Experience, Atlantic City Public Library; and "Atlantic City World War I Memorial, History & Setting," Hunter Resarch, Inc., 2008.
Photos courtesy of: NJ State Historic Preservation Office
B&W Photos courtesy of: Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) / National Parks Service
Originally named Liberty Memorial High School, it was completed in 1923 as a monument to the Lawrence High School students and graduates whose died in service during World War I. Of the 300 Lawrence youth who served, 144 hadn't yet graduated from high school. This number includes the two high school girls who died while serving as nurses.
The auditorium of the school was planned as a memorial hall. It includes stained glass windows made in Belgium representing various regiments of some fallen students. The most striking image to me is the large inscription of a Rudyard Kipling poem, adorning the wall over the stage. All that they had they gave - they gave - in sure and single faith. There can be no knowledge reach the grave To make them grudge their death Save only they understood That, after all was done We the redeemed denied their blood And mocked the gains it won.
All student assemblies, plays, concerts, etc are held in this auditorium. My own children attended middle school here, and it was always a sobering reminder of the children who were lost in service.
100 West 26 Street
Harold Van Buren Magonigle, architect
Located at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri, the Liberty Memorial is a memorial to service men and women who served in World War I. It is a National Historic Landmark and associated with the National World War I Museum located nearby.
“In Sacred Memory of the Men of Lincoln County Who Made the Supreme Sacrifice” Woodmen of the World Memorial. WW1 - Iraq War.
No additional information at this time.
Livingston County WWI Honor Roll
A tribute to 656 heroic ones who served their country
No additional information at this time.
"The Greatest Stadium in the World"
Los Angeles was already trying to get a large athletic complex built, so the idea was advanced to make a multi-purpose stadium that could be hold sporting, civic, and memorial events. The stadium was dedicated as a perpetual memorial to LA County Veterans of the World War.
Memorial Day and Armisitce Day programs would be held in the stadium for decades. Secretary of Commerce (and future President) Herbert Hoover spoke at one and many famous dignitaries would through the years.
In 1968, top Great War Air Ace Eddie Rickenbacker headlined a Veterans Day ceremony at Expo Park. Though no text exists of his remarks, this was apparently when the Coliseum was rededicated, not just to LA County's war veterans, but to "all those who served in World War I."
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum seeks to remember its heritage as not only a stadium of considerable athletic achievement, but as a venue that pays tribute to those who answered the nation's call nearly one hundred years ago
In memory of the Lost Battalion. Built A.D. 1938 by Work Projects Administration. George U. Harvey Borough President of Queens.
1 Willie St
Memorial for men who died from the "Acre" neighborhood of Lowell during World War One.
305 West Central Avenue
Photos courtesy of Lamar Veatch
Founded in 1967, The Lowndes County Historical Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the rich history of Valdosta and Lowndes County, Georgia. The society operates the Lowndes County Historical Museum.
This museum contains a rare collection of WW1 artifacts and displays, including the “Trench Shotgun”, invented by Valdosta native, William Eager.
This beautiful freestanding arch memorial dedicated to Lt. William Fitzgibbons specifically, and all other former St Mary's College stdents who served in WWI generally, was erected by the College and by Jesuit order that owned the college at that time.
From the St. Mary's Academy and College website: (visit link)
"The Memorial Arch is dedicated, "To the Sons of St. Mary's College who Served their Country in the World War, the Alumni Have Built this Memorial."
During the Great War, World War I, the Student Army Training Corps was established at St. Mary's and the campus was crowded with students in STAC uniforms. Over 700 of St. Mary's "old boys" (alumni) served in the War, and no less than 19 paid with the supreme sacrifice of their lives.
One of these, Lieutenant William T. Fitzsimons, of the Medical Corps (SMC class of '60) was the first American officer to die in France, September 7, 1917.
On Memorial day of 1922, a fountain honoring him was dedicated in Kansas City, Missouri, which can still be seen on the Paseo, a short distance from Interstate 70.
Meanwhile at St. Mary's, a magnificent Memorial Arch, gift of the College Alumni, was constructed at the main gateway of the College to honor Lt. Fitzsimons and all St. Mary's sons who fought in the War.
Dedicated during the Diamond Jubilee Celebration of St. Mary's in 1923, with Kansas Governor Jonathan M. Davis as a special guest, the Arch is surmounted by the Cross, and bears on either side of the inscription the old SMC seal, one commemorating the founding of the Society of Jesus in 1540, the other the founding of St. Mary's in 1848."
This park honors the memory of Lieutenant Frank McConnell (1896-1918), the first Richmond Hill resident killed in World War I.
Plaque 1: Dedicated to the sons of Morris Park and vicinity who served in the world war 1917-1918 and in loving remembrance of the following men who made the supreme sacrifice (names of 70 war dead).
Plaque 2: With undying love and gratitude to give homage to all veterans of the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean Campaign, Vietnam Campaign, Lt. F.J. McConnell, Post 229 Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.
Intersection of Lauderdale St. & Alabama Ave.
"Born in Selma, Alabama Oct. 16, 1887. Among the first to volunteer, and the first American Naval Officer killed in action in our war with Germany. Lost his life by a torpedo from a German submarine while aboard the U.S. ship ALCEDO off the coast of France Nov. 5, 1917. He gave his life that democracy and liberty might live." -Memorial text
Erected by the Citizens of Selma.
198 Bank Street.
The MacArthur Memorial is a museum and research center dedicated to preserving and presenting the story of General Douglas MacArthur and the millions of men and women who served with him in World War I, World War II, the Occupation of Japan, and the Korean War. Admission is FREE and the museum is open to the public Tuesday-Sunday ((757) 441-2965).