The Embassy puts out a biweekly internal newsletter that I always enjoy reading. The current issue had a feature about the building that we’re all currently working in that’s located in Grosvenor Square.

Since it’s an internal document, I can’t reprint any of it, but I can reprint some of the historical points already published in Wikipedia. So I thought I’d share them with you, since they are kind of interesting.

Grosvenor Square [the square itself, not the embassy building] has been the traditional home of the official American presence in London since John Adams established the first American mission to the Court of St. James’s in 1785. Adams lived, from 1785 to 1788, in a house which still stands on the corner of Brook and Duke Streets.

During the Second World War, Dwight D. Eisenhower established a military headquarters at 20 Grosvenor Square, and during this time the square was nicknamed “Eisenhower Platz”. Until 2009, the United States Navy continued to use this building as its headquarters for United States Naval Forces Europe. A statue of Franklin D. Roosevelt, sculpted by Sir William Reid Dick, stands in the square, as does a later statue of Eisenhower, sculpted by Robert Lee Dean.

The former American Embassy of 1938–1960 on the square was purchased by the Canadian government, renamed Macdonald House, and is part of the Canadian High Commission in London.

In 1960, a new and current United States Embassy was built on the western side of Grosvenor Square. This was a large and architecturally significant modern design by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen, who also designed the US Embassy in Oslo, but at the time it was a controversial insertion into a mainly Georgian and neo-Georgian district of London.

A large gilded aluminum Bald Eagle by Theodore Roszak, with a wingspan of over 35 feet is situated on the roof of the Chancery Building, making it a recognizable London landmark.

In 2008, the United States Government chose a site for a new embassy in the Nine Elms area of the London Borough of Wandsworth, south of the River Thames. Construction of the new Embassy of the United States in London is expected to begin in 2013, with relocation completed by 2017.

In October 2009, the building was granted Grade II listed status. The listing means that the new owners will not be allowed to change the façade. The following month, the Grosvenor Square property was purchased by the Qatari Diar investment group.

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it before, but I still get a kick out of this article in Wired magazine about the new US embassy being built in London. It compared it to a medieval fortress, which I thought was very appropriate considering the fact that the UK has such great medieval history.

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