The Arch of Triumph or Victory Arch was built by the citizens of Newport News and funded by a subscription. The original arch was a temporary structure erected at 25th Street and West Avenue. The inscription on the arch was written by Robert G. Bickford who won a contest to have his verse inscribed on the arch. Bickford wrote: “Greetings with love to those who return, A triumph with tears to those who sleep.” The arch was dedicated on April 13, 1919. As troops returned home they marched through the arch and received greetings from the welcoming townspeople. The original structure was built of wood and plaster and decayed over time. The arch was rebuilt in granite and rededicated on May 30, 1962.
The National War Work Council of the YMCA requested permission to build a $50,000 building on Casino grounds. The request was granted and this building was used to care for and entertain returning soldiers and sailors while they were in Newport News.
Crowds and flags lined Washington Avenue when troops marched down this street after their return home from the war.
The City of Newport News was an important embarkation point for soldiers and supplies during World War I. Between 1917–1918, 276,932 troops, 47,263 animals, and 4,113,873 tons of military supplies were conveyed through the city to Europe. The five camps in the area were Camps Hill, Alexander, Stuart, Morrison, and Eustis. Camp Stuart was named for the Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart and was the largest troop clearinghouse in Newport News. More than 115,000 soldiers were processed through Camp Stuart to serve in Europe. A historic marker at 16th Street & Roanoke Avenue commemorates the location of Camp Stuart.
The Red Cross was very involved in the war effort. In Newport News the Red Cross’ headquarters, or Canteen, cared for soldiers in many ways. Probably the most important task of the Red Cross was greeting soldiers on the pier with a friendly face and refreshments. The Canteen was located on the corner of River Road and 24th Street.
Hostess Houses were for visiting guests of the soldiers and were very important gathering places. Families would stay at a Hostess House while saying goodbye to their soldier or waiting for a soldier’s arrival home from war. In some cases, war brides from Europe received housing in a Hostess House while they waited for their husbands to be discharged from the military. Hostess Houses also entertained soldiers with dances, movies, lectures, and other such diversions. The Newport News Hostess house was located at Camp Hill, north of 64th Street along the James River.