VFW post comes down, plans for new building underway

Donnie Poe, owner of Donald F. Poe Construction Inc., of Strasburg, topples the chimney off the VFW Post 1860 off North Royal Avenue in Front Royal with a loader as demolition started Thursday morning. A fire last summer destroyed the structure, and plans for a new building are being developed. Rich Cooley/Daily

Demolition on the fire-damaged Veterans of Foreign Wars post on North Royal Avenue in Front Royal began on Thursday.

The demolition was the result of a fire that claimed the building last July. The VFW plans to move into a new building in the near future, said post Commander Chuck Midkiff.

“Our whole membership was involved in getting it to where it is,” he said, explaining that a steel building is the most feasible route for the post to take. “We had several meetings with our members and we discussed it with people that knew about the metal buildings and we decided that was the best way to go. We’re looking for any donations if we can get them.”

Midkiff said that a central location is vital for the organization.

“For us, it’s really important,”‘ he said. “Of course, the VFW, nationwide, they’re losing clubs every year and we don’t want to be one of them. We can keep our charter, we’ve got our property. All we have to do is get us a building back.”

Stuart Kuser, 81, a member of VFW Post 1860, looks over a section of the lodge that was leveled Thursday morning on North Royal Avenue. The building, which was destroyed by fire last summer, is finally being razed to make room for a new facility. Rich Cooley/Daily

The structure was destroyed by fire last July and Midkiff said there is some sadness felt for its loss. But he said the organization is moving forward with plans for a new building that will be built in the same general location, which is in a flood plain.  He noted that new building will allow for rising river water to pass underneath it during flooding.

“Our new concept is a modest, single-story, 5,000-square-foot steel building, elevated 10-12 feet above historical flood plain levels,” according to a news release from the post. “Our new building is specifically designed to meet or exceed currently known local, state and federal requirements.”

The post received less than it was hoping for in settlement money from the fire, and is asking for the public’s help, according to the release.

“We are eagerly awaiting a detailed cost analysis confirming our interior space plan and exterior rendering are fiscally viable,” the release noted. “However, we are confident construction and refurnishing cost will require significant fund raising.  We will share our analysis results once received. Additional updates to plans and renderings will be provided as well.”

Midkifff said the process to get to this point has been a difficult one, but things are looking up as the process of getting the new building gets further along.

Toppled brick from the VFW Post 1860 rests in the rubble Thursday afternoon. Rich Cooley/Daily

“It (the building) is going to mean everything to the VFW and we’ve helped the community in the past and we will in the future,” Midkiff said. “It means a lot to us and it will mean a lot to the community to have it back. We had to fight like crazy to make the town and county give us what we’ve got now. It’s going to be smooth and it’s going to be a good place to be. The county’s working with us now and we’re all happy.”

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com

An artist's rendering shows the proposed 1860 VFW Post lodge that is planned for construction. The 50-by-100-foot building will stand on top of an elevated steel platform, which will be designed to allow floodwaters to pass underneath. Renderings courtesy of VFW Post 1860