After the Second World War, much of Europe needed rebuilding. Estonia was placed in the Soviet Union's sphere of influence (the region or area a specific country was charged with rebuilding after the war). During the Cold War, the USSR occupied many of the countries within its sphere of influence, which were once part of the Cordon Sanitaire (a buffer zone of anti-Soviet states on the border). During the period of Soviet occupation, the United States pulled its embassy out of Estonia, even though the United States never recognized the USSR's occupation of the country. The U.S. Embassy to Estonia re-opened in Tallinn on September 4, 1991. Since the re-opening of the American Embassy, relations between Estonia and the U.S. have been strong and growing.
After World War II, many Estonians left and came to the United States to live and escape war-torn Europe. Estonians have a long history of folk art, such as music and dance. This long-time tradition was kept by Estonians who came to America. The New York Estonian Men's Choir was established in 1950; in response to this group, others have popped up in most Estonian-American communities around the country.
The Estonian chancery was originally a doctor's residence, completed in 1905 and built by the firm Marsh and Peter. This Beaux Arts building uses a blend of French renaissance and ancient Greek and Roman architectural features, including heavy masonry, columnns, and detailed decorations. Before acquired by the Estonian government in 1994, the building was home to the Peruvian Embassy and the Landon School for Boys. On July 2, 2001, the building caught fire and 80 firefighters took five hours to quench the blaze. Fortunately, the embassy was intact after the fire and had more smoke and water damage than fire damage.