the legion hut (Searcy, Arkansas)
Property Owner: City of Searcy
GPS Location: 35.251035, -91.738239
Interests: WWI, WWII, Korea, Military, Community
Project Details: Replace Roof, Interior Restoration
History of the Legion Hut
Built during the Depression in 1934 with funds from donations, the city council and majority from the government; materials were locally sourced for this community center. It first served as a gathering place for WWI vets and city functions. Before this time, first war veterans met in the Courthouse until their membership grew necessitating more space.
Opening day was in June of ’34 and a gala was held with the 153rd Infantry Band of the AR National Guard playing and many military dignitaries in attendance. The Legion Auxiliary, with the co-operation of other clubs in Searcy furnished the commercial kitchen. After the grand opening, the attendees walked a few blocks east to the National Guard Armory for a dance. (Later Truman Baker Chevrolet owned the old Armory property and then it was sold to Walgreens who built a drug store.)
Built with a front barrel arch with incased concrete nameplate that faces the north side of the White County Courthouse, the building hosts four large offices and a once beautiful grandhall with native stone inside and out of the 18 foot plus tall walls, 14 inches thick. In its heyday, WWI, WWII and Korea vets alike had meetings, special dinners and dances with their wives. It has massive fireplaces on each east and west side.
Organizations and operations that had offices there include: American Legion, Draft Board, Mayor, the Marshall, Chamber of Commerce, Driving License Testing the Red Cross, the White County Historical Society and dance lessons. It also served as a bunk room for troops the night before being shipped out.
Although it was placed on the historic register in 1990, the Legion Hut is now an orphan. Gone are the men that took care of the structure themselves and the local American Legion membership has slowly declined; not meeting there in years. The Hut needs a restoration that includes: a new roof including trusses, plumbing repairs, bathroom updates, kitchen/break room issues, HVAC added and more. It is the last original American Legion building left in the county.
The last sentence of a June 23, 1934, Searcy Daily Citizen article that announced the opening, reads, “The Hut is now dedicated to the use and to the citizens of Searcy – may it always be so used.” Donations may be sent to the WCHS. The first project is the roof.
- Article from the October-December 2019 Newsletter
May 19, 2020
We are currently waiting to find out if the Legion Hut Project will be rewarded with a state grant.
July 31, 2020
From the 2020 Quarter 3 Newsletter, page 2
"AMERICAN LEGION HUT RECEIVES $60,000 2:1 MATCHING GRANT
We are also honored to announce the blessing of a $60,000 matching grant for Phase I of restoration of the 1934 American Legion Building (Hut) award by the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program to the City.
In 2019, the American Legion Post gifted the native rock building on West Race to the City of Searcy and donated
matching funds in hopes of this 2:1 grant. In late 2019, the Searcy Board of Realtors contributed the majority of their silent auction proceeds ($6,000) to the cause and this month, the Searcy City Council voted to allocate $6,000. Thus, up to $90,000 will soon be available to start the Hut’s restoration. The roof is first. It may be a challenging year overall, but our preservation of history is alive and well! This project is a joint planning effort between the City, Main Street Searcy and the White County Historical Society."
May 5, 2021
Legion Hut restoration has officially begun! The first stage is the restoration of the roof. We are waiting on more grants to finish the inside.