Everything just seemed to come together this summer for Red Wing’s Leo C. Peterson American Legion Post 54.
Around the same time the city repaved and renovated an adjacent parking lot, the Legion’s executive committee allocated a $20,000 donation for capital improvements to the post on West Fourth Street.
The donation came from the estate of Donald R. Anderson, who died in October 2011. He was a member of Post 54 for more than 50 years, having joined the American Legion after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1946.
The money was used to beautify the building’s aging storefront, including replacing an old banner with lighted signs, said Goodhue County Commissioner Ron Allen, who also serves as the commander of Post 54.
“We needed to do something with the front of the building,” Allen said. “It was looking kind of shabby.”
Beyond giving the building a visual boost, the city’s work on the parking lot also should improve safety for patrons, Allen said.
The city added lighting, increased the number of handicap spaces and reduced a potentially dangerous slope on the lot.
“That will be helpful for members coming out of the building at night,” Allan said, “especially in the winter when it gets slippery.”
Paving work was completed by the end of July, just in time for River City Days.
The improvements were part of the 2013 Bituminous Street Overlay Project, a $1 million, summer-long project to maintain city owned streets and parking lots around downtown Red Wing.
Reaction to the new storefront has been positive, Allen said, with comments coming in from Legionnaires and nearby businesses alike.
As well as the work done on the outside, this summer the legion replaced most of the chairs inside the post and installed a couple of widescreen televisions for watching football and other sporting events.
Staff also is considering adding pool tables and dart boards in the near future.
“We want to give younger members more options,” Allen said, adding that one of the goals of the renovation is to attract more veterans to join the organization.
So far it seems to be working, as the number of visitors to the post has been improving and membership is up, he said
Additionally, after seeing the work done to the front of the building, an anonymous donor recently gave the legion $1,200 to fix the lights along the base of the post’s flagpole.
“It’s another nice improvement,” Allen said. “Once you start getting energy going, people start to contribute.”