The Monuments Men

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Henry Carlton Newton ( 1896-1981 )

Born on July 7, 1896 in Rankin, Illinois, Henry Carlton Newton studied architecture at Los Angeles Polytechnic. He served during World War I as a second lieutenant in the field artillery before returning home to teach architecture at The University of California. In addition to his lectures, he accepted a commission in the 160th Infantry Regiment, National Guard of California which continued for the next two decades. A devout Catholic, he designed a number of churches in Los Angeles, most notably the Precious Blood Catholic Church. He was elected to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1932 and named a Fellow in 1943.

In 1940 the 160th was called into active service. Newton was transferred to the armored branch at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he commanded the Armored Officers’ School affectionately nicknamed “Newton’s College” by the school’s students and graduates. He served as Deputy Commanding General of the 12th Armored Division in Camp Barkeley, Texas, which eventually deployed to the European Theater as part of General Patton’s U.S. Third Army.

In early 1944 Newton was selected by the Roberts Commission to coordinate the work of the MFAA in the European Theater of Operations (ETO). The highest ranking member of the AIA in the Armed Forces at the time, Newton was highly regarded by his peers for his knowledge of the inner workings of the military and his keen organizational abilities. His detailed plan, “Tentative Program for the American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in Europe” served as the basic framework for the work of the MFAA for years to come.

During the course of his service with the MFAA, Newton served in several positions, including War Department Representative of the MFAA to SHAEF (May to September 1944), field inspector and advisor to the MFAA in Italy (September to November 1944), Deputy Chief of the MFAA (December 1944 to February 1945), Chief of the MFAA branch, Reparation, Deliveries and Restitution (RD&R) Division (March to May 1945), and Chief of Ministerial Archives (May to October 1945). While Newton left the MFAA in October 1945, he volunteered to remain in Europe as Assistant Commandant of the newly formed U.S. Constabulary School in Sonthofen, Bavaria. In 1948 he was transferred to the U.S. Army’s Kitzingen Training Center in the Franconian region of Bavaria, the largest school and training command in Europe. Upon returning to the United States in 1950, he was assigned as Assistant Commandant at the U.S. Army Intelligence School at Ft. Holabird, Maryland, and later served as Director of Instruction and Assistant Commandant at the Armored School at Ft. Knox. For his devoted service to his country, he was awarded the Bronze Star and the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster.

In July 1956, Newton retired from the U.S. Army after a remarkable military career that spanned almost forty years of service and two World Wars. Settling down in the Washington, D.C. area, he became a founding member of the Board of Regents of Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. Over the next decade, he served as Chairman of the college’s building committee, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and was awarded the university’s President's Award in 1969. In later years, he served as a consultant to the U.S. Secretary of Defense, where he conducted major staff studies designed to improve the U.S. Army School System.

Henry Newton died on November 20, 1981 in Washington D.C. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.*



*The Foundation wishes to express thanks to Dr. Paul A. Harris, Associate Professor of Political Science at Auburn University, for his contributions to this biographical profile.