A SHORT HISTORY OF POST 29
The history of Caroline Post 29 is a primary product of John C. Stafford, a long time Adjutant of this Post. But we must give credit and much thanks to a small and dedicated group of WWI and WWII veterans who initiated this organization, and the few in number who kept this Post together in its early years. A Temporary Charter was issued July 2nd, 1931, with our permanent Charter being issued by the Department of Maryland on September 13th, 1932. A Supplemental Charter was later added on May 5th, 1948. In the early days of the American Legion, if a Post relinquished their charter (for whatever reason), their number was re-used by any new Legion requesting a charter number. Before our Caroline Post made the request in 1931, the number had been used by two other Posts in Maryland: the first by the Baltimore District’s “Blue and Gray 29” (the original colors of the 29th Division); and then by Midland 29, located in the Mountain District. There was also a Caroline Post 73 in Denton, but no other records of that Post were to be found in the Department of Maryland records.
Through the efforts and foresight of our dedicated predecessor Legionnaires, it was possible to purchase the post we now call home, though it was very different from what we see today. Until 1948, we didn’t even have a home. Meetings were held in the town of Denton, either in the Armory on 4th Street, or on the second floor of the Stewart Building located on Market Street across from the Court House. In May of 1948, we purchased our present post building from Mrs. Ann Henson (the grandmother of our own past SAL Squadron Commander, Kenny Jones). At that time, the building was a night club called “The Chateau,” and prior to that, its name had been “The Top Hat.” Back in those years, night clubs were dimly lit with dark painted walls to add ambiance for that patronage. With the purchase to convert the building to a Legion Post, work quickly began to change the setting, adding lights and repainting to make the facility more conducive for business meetings and family gatherings.
In 1951, we obtained our first beer club license, and also started bingo—which has been a revenue mainstay over the years. The following year, the kitchen and bar were switched around, we added the stairwell to the second floor, and tiled the main hall. Previously, the only way to get to the second floor was to use a pull-down folding stairway. Our Auxiliary was established in 1946, and they used to meet upstairs, in the space which now houses the Post office.
By 1960, our Post was out of debt and had a little extra cash, so our predecessors took another risk to do more remodeling. They added the new addition on the front of the building (parking lot side) to where we had moved the bar and lounge. Through their hard work, they paid off that debt in 7 years. They knew they had more work to do, so they took yet another financial risk, and added the new roof, installed a new ceiling in the main hall, and also renovated the ladies room (the one off the main hall). Then our Auxiliary made a generous donation to the Legion, which purchased the paneling for the entire Main Hall a couple of years later.
With the ‘70’s came increased membership, and subsequently, more activities. So, our predecessors realized a new and larger kitchen was needed to service our Legion family. They added the kitchen on the road side of the building, while also adding the dining room to the back of the main hall. There again, our Unit helped supply some of the appliances and furnishings to equip our new additions. The Legionnaires also added two new bathrooms, for our lounge patrons to utilize, and covered the outside wall with brick.
A couple of years later, our parking lot was enlarged and paved, as well as a storage room added to the far left back of the facility. In 1994, we constructed a 16 X 20 addition to this storage room. Today, we continue to look to the future, with plans for remodeling our kitchen. And through the same perseverance, we can continue to shape our post facility for future commitments.
Not all of our improvements to the Post have been structural in nature. Specifically, one of the nicest additions to our home was the in the form of the mural everybody enjoys, located on the back wall of our draped stage niche in the main hall. This mural was painted by Mr. Dave Getty, and was dedicated in a very impressive special ceremony on November 11th, 1972. This copyrighted mural continues to be a special reminder to all of our members and guest, of all our veterans’ contributions to this country’s freedom.
So there you have it. What started out as an idea, grew with the acquisition of our Legion charter. Our dedicated predecessors had the vision to acquire a small building ($5,000 purchase price), and converted it into the Legion Post our family enjoys today. Not only has the size and value of our Post building increased exponentially, the hard work and dedication of those who served before us significantly increased our family size and subsequent contributions to our veterans and community. This took countless hours of volunteer work, which we continue to see contributed by those same members, as well the new ones who have since joined.