First Posted: 8/10/2009
For years, an old house sat unoccupied on West Lebanon Street but the recently refurbished brick structure has become the new home of the local Disabled American Veterans chapter, which began serving its first clients there last week.
Monday, the 100-year-old building on the grounds of Veterans Memorial Park vacant and in a sad state of disrepair only six months ago was bustling with activity as its new tenants settled in to the facility. Its expected to be a gathering point for years to come.
Its a coming together of veterans, Dave Irby, chapter adjutant and service officer for the Disabled American Veterans in Mount Airy, said of what the remodeling project symbolizes as he stood on refinished hardwood floors inside the two-story, 11-room structure.
All local military organizations had a hand in the project, he explained, also praising volunteers and financial contributors from the community at large who made the facelift possible.
The house now filled with desks and office equipment will function as a convenient, spacious facility where local vets can enroll in various Veterans Administration health-care and other programs or get help in filing medical claims. Widows of military personnel also can receive assistance there. Transportation will be provided to VA hospitals for vets through two vans now based at the house.
Irby said it exists to aid veterans in general, including those who are not disabled. The local DAV has about 600 members and serves as an additional resource for vets along with the county Veterans Service Office in Dobson.
We want to be a welcoming place, he said.
Project Takes Shape
Back in March, volunteers were using crowbars to tear out walls as the project slowly began to take shape at the house boasting a granite foundation, attractive fireplaces and other appealing features making it worthy of restoration.
Major work related to the electrical system, air-conditioning and other facets was completed, allowing the facility to open last week. But were still unpacking, Irby added Monday.
He said the improvements have been accomplished thanks to the work of veterans who lent their building skills to the project as well as volunteers from the community who have labored there. We cant start naming the volunteers, because theres so many of them, Irby said Monday during a tour of the refurbished house.
There is still work to be done, including construction of a new front porch, parking lot improvements, grading and remodeling the top floor of the building.
So far, weve spent over $15,000, the DAV official said. He said another $10,000 to $15,000 will be needed to fully complete the project.
The DAV facility has received the support of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion groups, in addition to the Veterans Memorial Park governing board that actually owns the house and contains representatives of both organizations. The support has been manifested in moral as well as financial backing, including donations from group members and proceeds from bingo games at the park.
Irby said that Carolina Carports and Roger Taylor also were among those making significant monetary contributions to aid the work. He further applauded the Mens Brotherhood of Grace Moravian Church for building a handicapped ramp for the house.
Organizers are hoping National Guard engineers will assist with one of the costly facets remaining, the building of the new porch.
In addition to community donations that are still being sought for the facelift, several fund-raising efforts have assisted, including one in which new granite steps for the front entrance were sold in memory or honor of deserving persons. Irby said the 13 steps involved went for $250 each.
The houses windows also are being sold in a similar manner, Irby said, which will be designated by metal name plates attached to each.
Local dairyman C.W. Taylor, who built the house as his residence about a century ago, is not around to see whats become of it now. But he likely would be proud of the fact that his beloved structure has a new, extremely worthwhile purpose.
Its got one of the best views of any place in Mount Airy, Irby said.
Contact Tom Joyce at [email protected] or at 719-1924.