After the 2nd World War, a drastic increase in services was needed from Veterans Groups. There was especially a lack of meeting spaces recognized and five Veterans Organizations joined together to form the Veterans Memorial Association and build the beautiful building where Southtowne Rotary meets weekly.
In 1946, the property on Willamette was built and construction began. The funds and materials for the building, as well as the thousands of volunteer hours needed, continued to be funded and secured through 1948 when the building was first opened. The building was initially open to Veterans and their guests for meetings, balls, and socializing. It provided a place of shared history and understanding. Over time, the popularity of the building waned as more wars, and veterans from those wars came to be.
Eventually, the American Legion and VFW were the only organizations to remain involved and use of the building opened to community events. There were many issues, however, and a lack of involvement led to the original restaurant and lounge closing. In 2001, the building was almost sold, but was taken off the market and instead, a fundraising effort was ignited that helped to renovate the building to that day’s standard. Mac’s restaurant and night club, as well as their catering, took up residence and attracted new groups and area residents to the building, which now hosts a multitude of clubs, organizations, and events throughout the year.
Veterans service organizations help to ensure that veterans and their extended families are connected to affordable housing and other resources, and are not forgotten. Scholarship programs are funded by these organizations. Veterans in our community join and participate in these organizations in order to keep serving their community and to help their fellow veterans in need.
Thank you to our presenters, who provided the information that informs this post: Arnold Christensen, the current Quartermaster of VFW 293 and Frank Blair, who is deeply involved with local veterans.