A state-of-the-art, new American Legion Post 88 will open its doors any day at a new location on McCampbell Avenue in Donelson.
The downsized, but multi-fold upgraded, post is a stone’s throw away from the former long-time building on Elm Hill Pike. The groundbreaking was November, and plans are to open in a few days just as soon as the parking lot is finished.
According to post commander Len Chappell, the former facility and property were sold to a developer for $5.5 million. The post bought 4 acres at 2717 McCampbell Ave. and built a new building there. There are 998 members from the Nashville area and beyond.
Founded in 1947 Post 88 is one of the largest and oldest posts in the country. It occupied the Elm Hill Pike location since 1976. Chappell said the former location was antiquated and pre-dates the times, with some places without windows. The post built the Elm Hill facility from scratch for $3 million. But it needed a major upgrade and better efficiency.
“There was a lot of empty space there,” explained Chappell.
The new facility will have a pavilion and garage storage, among other amenities.
With entertainment provided every night and dancing and live bands each Saturday, the new ballroom will be used. There’s a full kitchen, bar, cantina, game room, office space and an outside pavilion. The post plans to rent out space a lot. A professional chef will be in the kitchen, and a hefty $200,000 was dedicated to the professional space.
Twenty-five of the post’s members belong to the ladies auxiliary, and Chappell said they are the “backbone” of the post. Dues are $30 a year.
“This is a community venue,” said Chappell. “We are part of Donelson. You don’t have to be a member to enjoy this space.”
He said the post is notorious for its patriotism. Members throw parties, help veterans, work with the homeless and the community band. There are Easter events and Christmas parties held at the post for children of veterans.
“It’s a great organization and makes me proud to be a veteran,” said Chappell.
There are members from every state. They serve lunch and dinner Wednesdays through Saturdays.
“I think we are going to grow even more with this new modern facility,” said Chappell, “for the young people, the next generation.”
And while some of the members are “up in age,” there are about 300 active members from all wars, including World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Chappell is a Navy veteran, and his family has operated Custom Woodworks of Nashville for the past 30 years. He was the post commander the past two years and served as second vice-president of the post prior to becoming commander.