The Garwin American Legion Lounge will hold a Grand Opening on Super Bowl Sunday, February 5. The Lounge will be managed by Angel Thurston and will serve pizzas, pretzels and cheese sticks, as well as pop and a full line of drinks. The full bar will serve specially blended drinks, featuring margaritas and daiquiri. Bottles and cans of beer will be available. Hours for the Lounge will be 5PM to 2 AM Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Friday, Saturday and Sunday the Lounge will open at 1 PM. July 11, 2011 was a day of infamy for the Legion Hall as the storm rolled through Garwin, taking off the roof and damaging the interior with water. The building had been housing the Garwin Post Office. The postal department chose to close the Garwin Post Office and the Legion insurance company said tearing down the building was not an option. So – the restoration process began. Loop Construction, out of Chicago, had nine to twelve men working for ten weeks on construction of a new roof and stabilizing the old structure. Approximately $180,000 was spent on refurbishing. As Commander Claude Smith stated, “It is the best building in town, so why should it set empty”. A number of members of the Garwin William Saunders American Legion Post 71 had discussed going with a bar prior to the storm. Claude Smith stated that the consensus of members was “Every Legion Hall that stays going has a bar or lounge.” Untold hours of volunteer labor by Legion members went into the interior sheet rocking and refurbishing the basement. The bar was even built by members, with Top Crafters of Marshalltown donating the bar counter top. Following the removal of four layers of tile, a new ceramic tile floor was installed throughout the main floor. The ceramic is durable and very easy to keep clean. The large case holding folded flags has been moved to the southeast corner of the lounge. Plans are to enclose the case with a glass front. Many old photos and other memorabilia have been placed on the walls. There are two large screen TV’s for viewing games and special events. Manager Angel Thurston, says that dart machines will be added to the Lounge. Every Tuesday night will be Dart League. She says she is planning monthly themed parties. Currently Valentine’s and Saint Patrick’s Day parties are on the agenda. The Legion Building is believed to be the oldest building in Garwin and was made of limestone blocks. As construction took place a limestone piece was found in the upper north west corner of the building and was clearly engraved 1901. The Garwin American Legion was organized in 1952. The Legion Building was purchased at that time. The story is told that it used to be an old opera house. During reconstruction the upper story was removed because of the severity of damage. The original rafters were native 2 x 14 lumber and are now fully insulated. As the Garwin Legion moves forward with the Lounge, a piece of history has been retained for the Garwin Community.
The basement of the Legion Hall has been completely restored. The water from the storm did so much damage to the old walls that it was all removed and replaced with mold resistant sheet rock. Claude Smith is standing at the far end of the room by the bar. It is anticipated that this room will be used for receptions for graduation and weddings. It is available for rent by the public. Photo by Margaret Thomsen