Lewis Army Museum

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The 91st Division Monument

By autumn of 1929, Fort Lewis had enough permanent barracks to quarter 1,500 troops; but an army-wide 119,000 troop ceiling was in effect. Fort Lewis manpower would not top 2,000 until 1937 when the 3d Infantry Division would be beefed up.

It was during this period of growth that a series of events occurred which have irritated the Post’s Commanding Officers ever since.

The western end of the main parade ground, now Watkins Field, had been allowed to grow up in fir saplings after WWI. In this grove of young trees, on Memorial Day 1930, the 91st Division Monument was dedicated. The monument was donated to the 91st Division Association by Colonel Frank McDermont of Seattle and sculptured by Avard Fairbanks, then head of the Division of Fine Arts at the University of Michigan. The monument was in turn deeded to the U.S. Government by the 91st Division Association.

Four years later, in 1934, the semicircle of senior officers’ quarters was built facing the rear of the monument. Later, when the parade field was again cleared, it became obvious that the view of Mount Rainier from those quarters was magnificent–to all but one, the largest home. Thus the Commanding General, in Quarters One, has no view of the mountain, only the back of the 91st Division monument.

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