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BY MIKE AVITT
I took this week’s picture on February 24, 2014, when the old VFW Hall was a dance studio. The building is still standing on East Monroe Street in Mount Ayr.
Mount Ayr established a chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in January 1949. Officers were: Lyle Dulany, commander; Bob Hudson, senior vice-commander; Chas. Lesan, junior vice-commander; Jake Daily, quartermaster; and Robert Richards, chaplain. Ed Mercer, Howard Smith, and Wayland Young made up the board of trustees. An organizational meeting was held at the Odd Fellows Hall in February 1947.
I believe this first attempt at a charter failed, because the VFW charter was reactivated in May 1951. The 1951 meeting was held at the American Legion Hall. The VFW Kilroy Post 8881 bought the Bridge Academy Schoolhouse in March 1952 with plans to move it to Mount Ayr for a meeting facility. Ainslee Triggs was commander at this time.
The Bridge Academy Schoolhouse was a mile west of Tingley, but I can find no evidence it was ever used by the VFW. In 1953, when the charter changed its name to Mount Ayr Post 8881, the meeting was held in the Woodmen’s Hall.
The only history I found on this week’s building was in the November 1, 1962 Mount Ayr Record-News. An article appeared announcing the burning of the mortgage note and a short history was given. The VFW bought two lots from C. O. Rhoades in early 1959 for the purpose of constructing a meeting place. The structure was still under construction in October 1959 and was completed sometime after that. In 1962, the hall was also being used as a teen center and Boy Scout meeting place.
When looking at the building, I can see part of the VFW Hall was built after the original, larger part was done. Part of the building has a basement under it.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars post sold the structure in 1972 to the Clover Leaf Square Dance Club.
In 1997, I rented this building for an event and there was some type of pre-school, like Big Bird or Head Start, operating there at the time. Soon after that, Tracee Knapp opened the Dance Connection here at 1108 E. Monroe. It later became a dance emporium under another owner.
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