The former residence of C.W. Taylor, who once operated a dairy farm on the site of the present-day Veterans Memorial Park, is around a century old. The two-story brick house sits majestically on a bank overlooking the park grounds, but its condition has been going downhill in recent years.
“They say it used to be something nice — about the nicest house around here years ago,” said Rawley King, a local veteran who is president of the park’s governing board.
The structure was on the park property when local veterans acquired the site in the mid-1940s after World War II. Through the years, it served as a meeting place for Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion members and their auxiliaries.
It is hoped that a recent lease agreement will lead to the old house being restored to prominence once again.
The park board agreed to lease the structure to Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Chapter 61, headquartered in Mount Airy. “We’ve let them have that house for 10 years for one dollar,” King said.
The DAV will be in charge of the restoration project, which Dave Irby, an official of that group and a certified veterans services officer, said is aimed at meeting a variety of needs.
Irby said the plan calls for developing a couple of offices at the structure where disabled veterans can file claims and receive other assistance. It is hoped that computers also can be set up there for use by veterans, who will benefit from having a centralized location to receive services. This will include transportation to Veterans Administration hospitals and clinics provided by the DAV’s two buses to be based at the site.
The local DAV chapter has about 600 members, according to Irby, including some from nearby areas of Virginia who have no such organization in their own communities.
“They’ll be filing claims for veterans at no charge,” King said in listing the services to be offered at the restored house, which is expected to serve as “a convenient one-stop location” for former military personnel.
“Our hope is to make everything come together,” said Irby.
“But we’ve got a lot of work to do,” the DAV official added of the restoration project ahead, which he hopes can be funded by grants. He wasn’t sure this week whether the historic-preservation route will be pursued to aid the refurbishing effort, but said research was under way to gain information about the structure’s background.
While the old house is in a bad state of disrepair, the brick structure sits on a solid foundation of Mount Airy granite and has hardwood floors and other attractive features.
King said the project could utilize the talents of community service workers who are regularly assigned by the courts to perform tasks at Veterans Memorial Park. He said that persons with carpentry, plumbing and other building skills often are among their ranks.
“This will cost the taxpayers nothing at all,” King pledged in outlining the project.
Irby said that the DAV is working toward a target date of May or June for having the restoration completion.
“We’re getting power to it soon, hopefully,” he said.
Contact Tom Joyce at email@example.com or at 719-1924.