Ambulance drivers at the headquarters in Paris. Spring 1917. Photograph by O. King.
Ambulance drivers at the headquarters in Paris. Spring 1917. Photograph by O. King. Courtesy of the Archives of the American Field Service and AFS Intercultural Programs (AFS Archives.) This image cannot be reproduced outside the guidelines of United States Fair Use (17 U.S.C., Section 107) without advance permission from the AFS Archives.

In July 1916 the American Ambulance Field Service (which would later be known as the “American Field Service,” or “AFS”) established an independent headquarters in the heart of Paris at 21 rue Raynouard. The property was made available by the Comtesse de la Villestreux of the Hottinguer family, who allowed their estate and private park to be used by the organization for the remainder of the war. The headquarters consisted of an estate and five-acre private park with a view of the Eiffel Tower. It had formal gardens and a grove of chestnuts, and included offices, mess quarters, an infirmary, temporary barracks, and grounds for the ambulances.

After AFS was absorbed into the ranks of the U.S. military by the end of 1917, the AFS headquarters continued to serve as a home away from home for the former AFS Drivers. Beginning in July 1917, staff at AFS headquarters published a weekly bulletin containing news of drivers and the war, which was distributed to former AFS drivers. Henry Sleeper, who had served as American Representative of AFS and Treasurer of the AFS Fund, closed the Boston office and moved to Paris after the Armistice to help the organization conclude business operations. Sleeper helped to maintain and manage the headquarters until it officially closed on April 24, 1919.

Click here to view more images from the AFS headquarters at 21 rue Raynouard.

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