WALLA WALLA - The American Red Cross has existed in the Walla Walla Valley since 1898, when it was formed to assist the First Washington State Volunteers Company of Walla Walla during the Spanish American War.
On Sept. 21, 1898, the Red Cross Aid became a permanent organization under the name of the Walla Walla Red Cross, and officers were elected. This was only 17 years after Clara Barton formed the Red Cross Society in the United States.
On July 11, 1917, the Walla Walla County Chapter of the American Red Cross received a charter. In October 1994, the chapter was re-chartered as the Blue Mountain Chapter with responsibility for Walla Walla and Columbia counties.
Founded during the Spanish American War and initially chartered during World War I, the Blue Mountain Chapter has a rich and varied history of which local citizens may be justifiably proud. Our volunteers have provided service to our community and nation during times of major and minor wars, during floods, fires, earthquakes, and major storms.
The local chapter has been a contact point between military service personnel and their families during times of crisis. In addition, it has provided lifesaving education to countless members of the community and has helped to ensure an adequate blood supply to hospitals in the local area.
The chapter office is located at the intersection of Park and Alder streets. This building, originally built in 1928, served for years as Fire Station 2 for the city of Walla Walla.
With only a few modifications, primarily related to the apparatus floor entrance, the building looks much the same as it did when it was used as a fire station.
The building was purchased for $10,000 by the Downtown Development Association of Walla Walla and deeded to the American Red Cross for $10 and other valuable considerations on March 31, 1972.
The chapter continues to operate from this historic location and offers health and safety classes in the room that once housed the city's fire pumper.
Jerry Cummins is executive director of the Blue Mountain Chapter American Red Cross. He can be reached at Cumminsj@bmcredcross.org