American Legion Post 231 rebuilding membership, its home

Oct. 19, 2013 @ 08:16 AM

Lenoir American Legion Post 231 was down to just five members a few years ago, nearly losing its charter.

Leadership fought to keep the charter and started to rebuild. Today, Post 231 is 40 members strong, and the effort to attract new and younger members continues.

“We want to encourage our young veterans that are returning from a war zone or active duty (to join the legion),” said Stanley McCormick, second vice commander of Post 231.

But membership is not the only thing getting rebuilt at Post 231. Post members are working to remodel and refurbish their old and neglected building.

Post 231 has occupied its Hill Street building since 1947, after its former tenant, Legion Post 29, outgrew the facility and moved to a new one on Main Street in Lenoir.

Structurally, the building is sound, said the Rev. Jim Norwood, who has been a member of Post 231 for more than 55 years. But, he said, plenty of work is still needed to get the building back to working order, including electrical rewiring, retrofitting the bathroom to make it handicap-accessible, repairing gutters and other exterior fixtures, and remodeling the kitchen.

A large hole in the floor is outlined by caution tape and shows the extent of rot, caused by moisture to the untreated pine joists that support the floor. The building’s kitchen and bathroom feature antiquated equipment, and the gutters are missing in places around the building. A lot of cosmetic work also is needed, including paint and other decorative aspects inside and out.

Norwood said the building is at an ideal spot for hosting community gatherings, which post members hope the repairs and sprucing up will make possible.

More events means more service to the community and more new members, and that means Post 231 can help more veterans.

An architect estimated the total cost of the repairs at $208,000, and the post plans on making them over a number of years in a two-phase development process, post chaplain Jeris Parsons Sr. said, completing projects as resources become available.

If nothing changes in terms of the post’s funding, Parsons said, that process will have to be drawn out for “quite a few years.”

Most of the organization’s funds come from donations from post members, said Parsons, though the Bernhardt Furniture Foundation recently donated to help the rebuilding efforts.

The first phase will be modernizing the electrical system and repairing the floor, which has begun to rot out and sag. The second phase would include the remodeling of the kitchen and bathroom, and repairs to building’s exterior.

Looking down the length of the building’s main gathering room, seeing past the hole in the floor and the peeled-back linoleum, Parsons said, “I smile at the possibilities,” wanting to see the old building that he is still proud of become “another proud place for soldiers to come.”

To make a donation to Post 231, call Freda J. Patterson, the post adjutant at 828-291-5937.