This photograph features A. Piatt Andrew at his home in Gloucester, Massachusetts, before World War I began. Prior to founding the American Field Service during the war, Andrew served as an assistant professor of economics at Harvard, director of the U.S. Mint, and assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury. “Red Roof,” as his home was called, was designed and built under Andrew’s direction in 1902. Red Roof contained secret rooms, one of which necessitated dismantling a sofa to access and contained a Prohibition-era wet bar and a player piano. Guests in the living room could therefore hear the music but didn’t know its source. Another secret room contained a dugout that was later filled with AFS artifacts from the war, including posters, AFS recruitment slides, shell fuses (a favorite souvenir of AFS Drivers), and trench art.
Andrew created elaborate entertainment for guests at Red Roof by organizing themed dinner parties, musical performances, and skits in full costume. Guests to Red Roof included interior decorator and longtime AFS supporter Henry Sleeper, the portrait painter John Singer Sargent, art collector and philanthropist Isabella Stewart Gardner, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Click here to download the Spring 2014 issue of the AFS Janus, which features an article on Red Roof, and notes the efforts of the AFS Foundation and collector Ron Poteat to preserve its legacy after the original home was demolished in December 2012.