ELMWOOD – The Grand Army of the Republic Hall in Elmwood has been one of the community’s historic jewels for more than a century.
Caretakers of the 1886 facility are hoping to continue the building’s legacy by giving it a new roof.
Cass County residents are raising money to replace the roof of the structure. Members of American Legion Post 247 and the Elmwood G.A.R. Hall Veterans Museum have a goal of securing $7,500 for the project. They have currently raised a total of $4,913.39.
American Legion Post 247 Commander Bonnie Brewer said members became concerned about the health of the roof over the past year. She said they wanted to prevent any potential damage from taking place both inside and outside the building.
“It’s not leaking at the moment, but we don’t want to take a chance of that happening,” Brewer said. “It’s not in good shape right now. We’ve had contractors drive by and stop in unannounced and ask if they can give a bid for it. When that started happening we knew it was time to take some action.”
Sixteen charter members founded the Elmwood Grand Army of the Republic organization in 1882. They built the G.A.R. Hall four years later as a place to hold group meetings and community functions. The structure is one of only four original G.A.R. Halls remaining in Nebraska.
Elmwood-Murdock Future Business Leaders of America students joined forces with American Legion members in 2004 for a renovation project. They restored the building and converted it into a veterans museum. It now houses one of the largest compilations of artifacts from area veterans in Cass County.
The museum features numerous tables and display cases of items ranging from the Civil War to the present day. The objects include uniforms, photographs, medals and banners.
One of the newest displays is a series of historic posters from World War I. The 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended military hostilities in World War I took place earlier this month.
Brewer said the new roof will allow volunteers to continue showcasing a wide variety of military objects. She feels the historic museum has a bright future in Elmwood.
“Fourteen years ago all we had in here was an eight-foot table with a few items, and now we’re running out of space for everything we have,” Brewer said. “It’s been very exciting to see it grow over the years.”