Post 163 veteran's Museum
Our Post Armory in the basement was burgeoning with donations from the many local vets on the island, and in 1995 Post member “Skip” St. Pierre built our first display cabinets, which still house most of our weapons, and our Japanese and German displays. Then Club Manager Doug Bison used his artistic talent to exhibit and catalogue the exhibits.
Our museum addition was built in 1999 after learning from the Town that a change in the traffic laws necessitated us to forego the use of our street front parking lot. Vice Commander Ray Broten, Chaplain Karl Mueller and members Larry Tupper and Brett Hawes volunteered to construct the addition. A Wall of Honor was first built to help raise funds by selling commemorative bricks.
The Museum formally opened to the public on Memorial Day, 2001 after extensive, dedicated work by our first Curator, Doug Bison, who diligently catalogued and labeled many of the exhibits. It is an ongoing job. Below, B.J. Miner cuts the ribbon for our 2000 Grand Opening.
An extremely rare Flag of the Union Army, was donated by Post 163 member Walt Pasco. The flag has a history of being used at the Battle of Shiloh, and then draped the coffin of Walt’s Great Uncle upon his death while he was incarcerated at the infamous Andersonville POW Camp. The configuration of the stars is very unique.
Staffing over that first ten year period was sporadic, but evenso, donated memorabelia kept showing up at our door, filling drawers and the once nearly clean Armory. We came into a few low show cases when a business closed down here in town, and then a couple of more. The more exhibits we displayed – the more donations we received. Items were usually dropped off with our Club Manager in the mornings before finding their way to the Armory.
In 2005 Historian Peter DeLorenzi designed the 4 new matching cases. They were built by Jeff Mason , a local finish carpenter, while he was in between projects. Michele DeLorenzi stained and finished the cases.
January of 2009 brought renewed energy and Peter, his wife Michele and step son Erik Brown repainted the museum walls and re-arranged the cabinets to their present positions. Vice Commander “Doc” O Neill, Historian Jim Glover and Commander Plummer all pitched in when needed.
The Museum is arranged in a chronological order, allowing visitors to walk from the Civil War through to the current conflicts. Comfortable and ample table space is provided for research projects.
FOR THE FUTURE: we wish to include several video presentation areas in order to showcase each major war period and some individual veterans and their achievements. We will also upgrade the main television viewing area as our library of War related movies also continues to grow; likewise does our Military Library. We are now taking appointments with local veterans to video their memories and include them as “Oral Histories”.
From time to time we will display special exhibits, coordinated with applicable community and national events. For instance: Women in the Military; The Marines; Local Heroes; and other focal points have already been suggested to highlight our community involvement and service.
Our location, next door to the world famous Whale Museum that attracts some 25,000 visitors each year, is a key factor to our marketing. We are within easy walking distance from the ferry landing and traffic holding area and our property enjoys a splendid view of the Port activities and other distant islands. About ten restaurants, 3 hotels, and numerous shops and galleries are within a 3 block radius. The County Courthouse is across the street, as is Town Hall; and, we overlook the Port of Friday Harbor.
Sorry, the lounge area is available only to members & guests! Would you like to join us?
Stop on in for a complimentary tour of our facility. Call Museum Administrator at 360-298-1940 for info.
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