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Pershing Hall

History of the building
Pershing Hall was constructed at the end of the 18th century for the Count of Paris and served as his residence. Commander in Chief John J. Pershing settled in the mansion upon his arrival in Paris, in the spring of 1917.  The building served as his headquarters. In 1919, it became the head office of the American Legion Paris (called ParisPost#1) in France.

American Center France | Isabelle Dubly

John J. Pershing
Born on September 13th, 1860 in Laclede, Missouri, John J. Pershing graduated from West Point in 1886, where his “leadership skills and superb ability” were already noticed.
As second lieutenant in the 6th Cavalry, at Fort Bayard, New Mexico, he was on active service in 1890 against the last of the Apache.  During the winter of 1890-1891, the 6th Cavalry put an end to the Sioux uprisings. He was cited for bravery and gallantry.  At 37, he became an instructor at West Point where he joined the tactical Staff.

During the Philippine War, the Distinguished Service Cross was presented to John J. Pershing, Brigadier General, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action against the Moro (rebels who were active in the southern Philippines). As the Commander of Camp Vicars, in 1901, Pershing personally assumed command of the assaulting line at the most critical period when only 15 yards from the last Moro position. His encouragement and personal heroism resulted in a general advance and the prompt capture of the hostile stronghold.

In 1917
, following America's entrance into World War I President Woodrow Wilson, named Pershing as Major General, a post which he retained until 1918.  Pershing was made responsible for the organization, training, and supply of the American troops. After departing from Fort Jay at Governors Island in New York Harbor in May 1917, Pershing arrived in France in June 1917. To highlight the American presence, part of the 16th Infantry Regiment marched through Paris shortly after his arrival.  Additional American forces were deployed in France in the autumn of 1917. Pershing exercised significant control over his command, with a full delegation of authority from President Wilson. The Secretary of War, Newton D. Baker, cognizant of the endless problems of domestic and allied political involvement in military decision making in wartime, gave Pershing unmatched authority to run his command as he saw fit. In turn, Pershing exercised his prerogative carefully, not engaging in issues that might distract or diminish his command. George C. Marshall served as one of Pershing's top assistants during and after the war.

In 1919
, in recognition of his distinguished service during World War I, the U S Congress authorized the President to promote Pershing to the General of the Armies of the United States, the highest rank possible for any member of the United States armed forces, which was created especially for him and one that only he held at the time (General George Washington was posthumously promoted to this rank by President Gerald Ford in 1976). Pershing was authorized to create his insignia for the new rank and chose to wear four gold stars for the rest of his career, which distinguished him from the four (temporary) silver stars worn by Army Chiefs of Staff, and even the five star General of the Armies insignia worn by Marshall, MacArthur, Bradley and Eisenhower, in World War II (Pershing outranked them all).
There was a movement to make Pershing the President of the United States in 1920, but he refused to actively campaign. In a newspaper article, he said that he "wouldn't decline to serve" if the people wanted him, and this made front page headlines. Though Pershing was a Republican, many of his party's leaders considered him too closely tied to the policies of the President Wilson’s Democratic Party. The Republican nomination went to Senator Warren G. Harding of Ohio who won the 1920 Presidential Election.

Pershing was rewarded with the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for his book of memoirs called, “Experiences in the World War”.

During the Second World War, he was an advocate for providing aid for Great Britain. On July 15, 1948, Pershing died of coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure in Washington, D.C. He received a state funeral and was buried in Arlington Cemetery, beside the tombs of the soldiers he had commanded in Europe.

Though they began with little experience in the National Army of 1917- 1918 (some men were overseas two weeks after induction), the methods and training programs that Pershing inaugurated early in 1917, were the beginnings of a  masterfully refined mobilization training plan  developed in 1941-1945 that produced the finest, most wide-ranging army the world had ever seen.  Pershing produced an integrated fighting force of two million men in 18 months, and he also fought as a field commander in the last few months of the war.

The American Legion

To convince America to enter WWI was not easy. Since 1914, the allied diplomats and Generals had pressed the United States to participate. Loath to enter the war, the United States encouraged them to reach an agreement, and refused to intervene militarily. Although the United States had not yet officially entered the war, American volunteers were already fighting on French soil. These volunteers participated in the war through joining the Foreign Legion. They included people like Alan Seeger the poet, as well as members of the Escadrille Lafayette or medical corps such as those of the American Red Cross. They were often on the front line, but remained very few in number.
Everything changed on March 19, 1917. Germany, which had increased its provocations, resumed its submarine warfare and sank the American ship, Viligencia. This was the final straw for the United States. On April 6, 1917, an exasperated Congress voted to go to war by 373 votes to 50. At that time, the professional army was small, poorly equipped and they had little combat experience.

Nevertheless, General Pershing arrived in France on June 13, 1917 with 177 Americans. In less than eighteen months, more than 2 million men and tons of materials, ammunition, weapons and supplies passed through the port of St Nazaire.

Forming of the American Legion  

The idea of establishing an all-inclusive veterans organization occurred to many but it remained for a group of twenty members of the A.E.F. to deal with the idea in a concrete manner. Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was the veteran of that small group who provided the organizing genius, the unselfish spirit and the magic of a great American name that permitted the American Legion to be created.

On March 15,1919, about 1000 American soldiers came for a 3-day caucus in the capital of the nation in which so many of their comrades had made the supreme sacrifice.  The gathering took place in the Cirque de Paris”.  There, they sought to create an organized fraternity which would bind them together as veteran-citizens linked by the hopes and desires which had motivated on battlefields thousands of miles from their homeland. They were committed to maintaining the comradeship which they had discovered on the battlefield. The assembly was to create a great idealistic veterans society which to this day, perpetuates the memories of its dead, continuing in service to its country and advocating for its disabled.

The 90th Birthday of the American Legion was celebrated in March 2009 in Paris and included the participation of a large delegation from France and other members from Germany, the US.

The Cirque de Paris is gone but a plaque commemorating the event is erected on its site. In 2010 a commemorative wreath was placed on the plaque located at the No. 14 rue Ernest Psichari, near the Ecole Militaire.”*
Time thinned the ranks of veterans. In 1998, the Department of Veterans Affairs leased Pershing Hall for a period of 99 years to a French firm, in order to redevelop it as a hotel and establish within it a memorial.
The American Legion’s ParisPost # 1 has been transferred to the area near Gare de Lyon, 22-24 Boulevard Diderot, 75012, Paris.
Internet site:

The Post is very active from early September through the 4th of July. Monthly meetings are held regularly. The present members participate in celebrations on Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day (French Armistice Day) and in many other ceremonies. They publish a newsletter three times a year and welcome new members.
Time will not dim the glory of their deeds” 
                                                                      General John J. Pershing

Pershing Hall. 49 rue Pierre Charron. 75008 Paris. Tel: 00 33(0)1 58 36 58 00
*Geoghegan Clarita, Commander of ParisPost#1
-Arlington National Cemetery website
-Figaro Magazine. Saturday June 30th, 2007
-American Legion ParisPost#1
-Pershing Hall Hotel press kit



© Hotel Pershing Hall 
Commemorative plaque
© Hotel Pershing Hall

© Hotel Pershing Hall
Over the entrance-door
© Hotel Pershing Hall

© Arlington Cemetery - US Army Archives
General John J. Pershing
© Arlington Cemetery - US Army Archives

The three Army-corps on the main façade
© Hotel Pershing Hall

Pershing Hall Hotel in present days 
Although the interior architects refurbished it completely, the building has kept numerous memorabilia of the American Legion. Andrée Putman brought a “high tech” and rigorous grace to the previous structure keeping the ironwork “A L “of the balconies overlooking the patio and the stars of the American flag inserted in the metal gates. The façade’s eagle and soldiers’ heads still welcome the visitors. Imaad Rahmouni infused the Hall with the spirit of the Mediterranean using silk fabrics, beads and Murano crystal. Patrick Blanc composed an amazing, 35 meters high, vertical garden by attaching several inches of felt and sewing the plants into pockets. Each floor lobby presents visitors with a painting, a memorial plate, or a sculpture reminding the viewer of the Hall’s prestigious military past.

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