Originally published in The Weekly Packet, December 20, 2018
Legion members look to the community for support
Building renovations aim to save the structure
by Faith DeAmbrose
It’s a piece of Blue Hill history, and those associated with the now American Legion building on Tenney Hill want to make sure that it stays that way for generations to come.
Once a town academy, operational from 1803 until 1898, it was where many students were educated before George Stevens Academy was constructed.
The building was acquired by the American Legion in 1944 and during the last few years, a concerted effort has been made by the members of the local Duffy-Wescott Post to repair the building in ways that will preserve it into the future and make it available for community use, said Butler Smythe, Legion finance officer and adjutant.
With 29 members and a roster that continues to shrink, the Post is seeking community support in its endeavor to rehabilitate the historic brick structure.
Well drilling was the first of the major projects undertaken by the legion members. “We didn’t have water until two or three years ago,” said Smythe, “we borrowed it from next door.”
Drainage work was also done around the building hoping to take pressure off the failing foundation, said Legion member Reggie Nevells, adding that work and materials were donated by Billy Cousins and M.E. Astbury for that project.
A building assessment, paid for by the post, determined overall needs and found that roughly $500,000 would be necessary to restore the building and make it usable year round. Some repairs, such as those to the foundation and the roof are more immediate than others, explained Smythe.
The American Legion and its local chapters aim to help veterans in all settings, said Smythe, and while the organization is considered a military organization, it also supports the wider community by providing space for the Boy and Girl Scouts to meet, or a venue for the annual Last Night celebration.
It addition, the post sponsors area students to the annual Dirigo Boys & Girls State, which allows high school juniors to attend a program focused on teaching government education at the local, state and county level as well as annually places flags and grave markers on veterans’ graves.
To learn more about the Duffy-Wescott Post 85 visit duffy-wescottpost85.org. To contribute to the ongoing rehabilitation of the building, contact Smythe at email@example.com or send mail to Butler Smythe (Finance Officer), PO Box 531, Blue Hill, ME 04614.