Project breathes new life into old American Legion Hall

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category icon Editorials, Opinion

Taking something old and making it new again.

It’s a mantra many Pacific Northwesterners have come to understand and appreciate as part of the area’s “reduce, reuse, recycle” frame of mind.

Camas based company CID Bio-Science has taken this concept to the next level as it completes a $1 million renovation to the 80-year-old landmark American Legion Bennett-Barnett Post No. 27 building located at the corner of Northeast Third Avenue and East First Avenue.

Originally designed by architect D.W. Hillborn and built in the 1920s, it served as Post No. 27’s meeting hall and over the years has also been used for public and private events, and as a roller skating rink and a neon sign business and museum.

The run-down building had been vacant for about a half-dozen years when it caught the eye of CID Bio-Science President Leonard Felix, who was impressed by its interior design elements including giant timber beams. In it, he saw great potential. So in October 2011, CID purchased the building and renovations began in June 2012. On Nov. 20, the community is invited to an open house when the results will be unveiled.

During this event, not only will the public get to see how this company led the revitalization of an old, falling-down structure that could have eventually been demolished, but they can also learn how CID is paying homage to its history. Highlights include the installation of a way-side display recognizing the American Legion’s connection to the landmark property, and recent approval for the building’s placement on the Clark County Historic Register.

From the get-go, Felix said the unique features of the building are what drew him to it, and he planned on preserving and enhancing those elements as much as possible.

“The building’s got great bones,” he said during an interview in November 2011. “We want it to be a showpiece.”

On Tuesday, the public can see exactly what he meant.

Not long ago, the American Legion Hall was quickly on its way to becoming an eyesore. But today, it has been brought back to life and now has the opportunity to be a source of community and historic pride and a symbol of successful small business economic development.