1917: The Red Cross moves into Old Town Hall

In 1917 Old Town Hall, which had been purchased the Historical Society of Delaware in 1916, served as the headquarters for the Delaware Chapter of the American Red Cross. Old Town Hall served a central location for the Red Cross from 1917-1919, and the space was used extensively by the local chapter.

With the outbreak of World War I, the American Red Cross experienced phenomenal growth. The number of local chapters jumped from 107 in 1914 to 3,864 in 1918 and membership grew from 17,000 to over 20 million adult members and 11 million Junior Red Cross members. The Delaware Chapter of the Red Cross had 15,634 members by December 31, 1918. The Junior Red Cross membership in Delaware was impressive as well, with 56,050 members. The Red Cross had a large presence in Wilmington during World War I.

Due to participation and a need for a central location, the Delaware Chapter of the Red Cross established their headquarters in Old Town Hall. Delawareans aided the war effort in droves. For example, Hannah Armstrong Porter was active in the Red Cross both internationally and locally. During World War I, she worked for the Red Cross in France and Switzerland. When she returned to Wilmington in 1917, she was made the head of the Women’s Volunteer Work organization where she oversaw a large staff that worked to collect surgical dressings, clothing, knitting, and supplies at Old Town Hall.

1917 - Red Cross Display WWI1
Red Cross Window Display in Wilmington, 1917

The Red Cross utilized Old Town Hall as their headquarters until the end of 1919. For nearly three years Old Town Hall was a central part in Delaware’s war effort.

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