History of the U.S. and Greece

The Greek War of Independence began in 1821 and concluded in 1830 when England, France, and Russia forced the Ottoman Empire to grant Greece its independence under a European monarch, Prince Otto of Bavaria.

The United States supported the emergence of modern Greece from the earliest days, establishing diplomatic relations with the country on 1868. Charles K. Tuckerman (1827-1896), the first Ambassador from the United States, was an American diplomat and writer. He served as the minister resident of Greece, which was at the time, a new job created by President Andrew Johnson. He was born in the United States, but spent most of his working life working in Hong Kong and Greece.

Today, in addition to the Embassy in Athens, the United States maintains a Consulate General in Thessaloniki. Tens of thousands of private U.S. citizens now reside in Greece, while an estimated three million Americans residing in the United States claim Greek descent.

For more information, see the State Department’s page Office of the Historian: Greece

The Embassy Building

The Embassy Building, completed July 4, 1961, was two and one-half years in construction, at a cost of $1,500,000. All of the wooden furniture was made in Greece, from American designs, by the Sarides Company of Athens, which has made furniture for Embassies of many nations throughout the world. All the fabrics used in the upholstered furniture were created in the United States. Nearly 350 Greek engineers, craftsmen and workmen were employed during the construction of the building.

Priority was given to the use of local materials. All the marble, cement, tile and plastering materials are Greek products. Most of the fabricated materials came from Western Europe. The items imported form the United States were mainly machinery, such as the air-conditioning, heating and ventilating equipment, pumps and transformers.

The building was designed by Walter Gropius and “The Architects Collaborative Inc.” of Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. It was constructed by the “Albertis-Demopoulos Construction Co.” of Athens.

The Chancery is in the shape of a perfect square with a center court, enclosing a planted area and fountain. Exterior and interior columns, of Greek inspiration, are utilized to support giant horizontal crossbeams. The building is constructed of steel and reinforced concrete and is air-conditioned. Specially designed steel hangers are attached to these beams which suspend (hang) the second and third floors of the three-story building. A kind of cradle effect is thus achieved, ensuring “give” in the event of a seismic tremor.

The marble of the building is as classic as its architectural style. Most of it is the famous white marble from Mt. Penteli. Black marble from Saint Peter, Peloponnesus, gray marble from Marathon and other native Greek marbles are used throughout the building. The beautifully turned wooded stair railing were made with Greek pearwood by Greek artisans.