By Andrea Kutsenkow, Archival Consultant, AFS Intercultural Programs
National Directors from fifteen countries recently visited AFS International’s office in New York City for a series of trainings. The office at 5 Hanover Square is the headquarters of AFS Intercultural Programs’ global network, which coordinates and leads our work, and which we began calling home in 2020, although most staff returned to in-person work in 2021.
Our previous office in New York City on the 23rd Street had been home since 1996. The space, located within a two-building complex built in 1911, featured unique architectural elements and interesting neighbors, including the headquarters of the Masonic Hall Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York. It was also conveniently located near New York’s iconic Flatiron Building and Madison Square Park.
A move during the height of a global pandemic certainly presented several unique challenges. However, staff are now settling into their new workspace and once again welcoming visitors to a modern office that’s a short distance from Battery Park as well as other institutions that are similarly dedicated to education and cultural heritage, including The Skyscraper Museum, The Museum of Jewish Heritage, and the National Museum of the American Indian, a branch of the Smithsonian.
At 5 Hanover Square, staff are already paying homage to AFS’ own rich history with a wall of archival photographs framed near the main entrance and a selection of awards and artifacts on view in and outside of President and CEO Daniel Obst’s office. Rooms throughout the office are named after prominent AFSers, including A. Piatt Andrew, Stephen Galatti, Lucy DeMaine, Dot Field, Arthur Howe, Jr. and Bob Applewhite, among others, and two doors from a World War II Dodge ambulance with AFS company insignia and signatures of AFS World War II drivers present at the Williamsburg Reunion in 1995 are proudly on display in the kitchen. These doors were presented to AFS at the closing ceremony of the AFS 50th Anniversary celebration at the Manhattan Center in New York on August 2, 1997.
Throughout time, AFS International has called a number of locations home. This is evident through the ever-changing letterhead, logos, rubber stamps, and branded memorabilia within the AFS Archives. Discover how AFS has developed and transformed since the organization’s founding through the lens of different headquarters over the years.