Washington’s Victory Arch
Published 7:48 pm Monday, May 17, 2021
I am so grateful the Washington Daily News asked me to write a weekly column. I really enjoy it and one of the things I enjoy most is the feedback I receive.
Reminiscing about Washington’s bygone days seems to be something some readers like and the history that I share seems to help them learn what and where buildings and businesses were and what they are now. I also enjoy getting questions about things readers have heard older family members mention and they turn to me for more information.
Joel M. a faithful WDN reader for more than fifty years had a question. I answered it to the best of my ability but I realize there are people with more information than I have, so Joel and I would welcome any additional help you can give.
He wanted to know more about Washington’s Victory Arch for World War I soldiers. He saw the post I made on my Facebook page, ‘I’m from Washington NC and nobody told me this” about the Victory Arch and wanted to know if I would write about it.
Washington’s Victory Arch was located at Main and Market Streets to welcome soldiers home from the war and to commemorate and honor the Beaufort County men who gave their lives. The war lasted from June 1914 to November 1918.
The temporary white wooden structure was built in early 1919 and spanned both streets. It had four large wooden sides anchored on all four corners of the street with four arch spans across the top. American flags adorned the tops of the arches.
The victory parade was held in March 1919. It formed at the Norfolk Southern train station on the former Coffee Caboose site and marched down Main Street, where it passed under the arch at Main and Market Streets, turned north down Market, and stopped at the Post Office at Second Street for the welcome address.
Joel’s great grandfather said all the people of Washington, black and white, worked on building the arch, and it showed the spirit of the people who really put fine effort into building it.
Over 1,000 people attended the parade. Several large bands accompanied the parade including the one from Shaw University in Raleigh.
A large reception was later held for all the military at the Washington Tobacco Company Building at Main and Respess streets.
Washington, Kinston and Asheville were the three North Carolina cities to have a Victory Arch.
Washington DC had the largest and grandest victory parade of any city in the country. Their arch was built in September 1919. General John J. Pershing led the returning troops up Pennsylvania Avenue, past the White House, the Treasury Building and the Navy Building under the victory arch.
I am glad our Washington had such a notable parade also.
Leesa Jones is a Washington native and the co-founder and co-executive director of the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum.