Cambridge Legion to put building up for sale

The Legion, and all related activities, will operate as normal

By Rachel Kytonen

Members of the Cambridge American Legion, Howard McCarty Post 290, are putting the physical building up for sale, located on 2nd Ave. in Cambridge, but the bar and restaurant, and other activities, will operate as normal.

During a meeting last week with Legion Commander Clark Swanson and Auxiliary President Carol Holmgren, they explained the building is being put up for sale, but they want the community to know the organizations aren’t going anywhere.

They explained the bar and restaurant will remain open, and programs and activities associated with the Legion and Auxiliary will continue to operate as normal.

“We sent out letters to all our members indicating that our membership has declined, and we don’t need this much space anymore,” Swanson explained. “We need to downsize our building, but this doesn’t mean the Legion or Auxiliary are going anywhere.”

Swanson said around 70 to 100 members attended a meeting three weeks ago to discuss the situation, and almost all members were in agreement to sell the building. Swanson said the Legion and Auxiliary are hoping to relocate into a smaller building in Cambridge.

“We are staying open for business while we try to sell the building, and we want to remain visible in the public’s eye,” Holmgren said. “We want to still be here to help serve the men and women service members of the community, and continue to operate as a Legion and Auxiliary.”

Swanson said they are still getting appraisals on the property, and the property is expected to go on the market in a few weeks.

He explained the Legion building was built in 1976, and they began operating out of the building in 1977. He said both the Legion and Auxiliary have experienced declining

membership throughout the years, but noted this isn’t unique to just the Cambridge community.

“It’s a different society now,” Swanson said. “Most of our most active members are WWII, Korean and Vietnam veterans,” Swanson said. “We really only have a core group of 10 to 12 active members and that makes it really hard. We have a big building, and we just don’t need that much space.”

Holmgren said she hopes the Legion and Auxiliary can find new members.

“I hope things can change for us,” Holmgren said. “We first started talking about selling the building 15 years ago. But we hoped membership would pick up, but unfortunately it didn’t happen.”

Even though the most visible part of the Legion and Auxiliary is the Color Guard, both organizations have given back to the community in various capacities.

Holmgren explained in the 1980s, Auxiliary members would visit cancer patients in Memorial Hospital and purchase supplies for patients undergoing chemotherapy. She said they have also been a supporter of The Refuge, and have given funding to them.

Holmgren said one of the Auxiliary members also started the Isanti County Home Delivered Meals program, which is still in operation.

The Legion also supports the Boys and Girls State program each year at the local high schools, and scholarships. Swanson said they have also put up flag poles for organizations, bought and installed the original scoreboard at Larson Field, and much more.

“The Legion is a service organization, and we want people to know we are still here for them,” Swanson said. “We want to continue to do the types of activities we were founded upon.”

Holmgren said along with service past and present members of the military, community service is also a core of their organization.

“Both the Legion and Auxiliary do as much as they can for the community, and we hope to always be available to the community when they need us,” Holmgren said.

  • D.J.

    No big suprises here.

    “We really only have a core group of 10 to 12 active members and that makes it really hard. We have a big building, and we just don’t need that much space.”

    When this “core group” for years resists any significant change because it may change THEIR club and the way it operates, this is bound to be the end result.

    When you don’t actively recruit new members your numbers are only going to decline. When you do not actively try and get some of the other 500+ members of the Legion Post involved in some way, this is going to be the end result.

    But most of all, when you choose to ignore the words of the preamble(which is recited by members before every meeting) and choose to only uphold and defend the parts of the constitution your politics agree with, and only foster and perpetuate 100% Americanism when it is convienent or might make the club look good. The Post is then put on a countdown timer to irrelevance or worse, possibly turning in it’s charter like many other clubs have done across the country.

    Preamble to the Constitution

    To uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America;

    To maintain law and order;

    To foster and perpetuate a one hundred percent Americanism;

    To preserve the memories and incidents of our associations in the Great Wars;

    To inculcate a sense of individual obligation to the community, state and nation;

    To combat the autocracy of both the classes and the masses;

    To make right the master of might;

    To promote peace and goodwill on earth;

    To safeguard and transmit to posterity the principles of justice, freedom and democracy;

    To consecrate and sanctify our comradeship by our devotion to mutual helpfulness.

    There is no reason this should be happening. We right now have an America flooded with new Veterans, they should be out trying to not only recruit them but trying to get them involved with the Post as well. Instead they look to downsize. This is a failure of leadership and the “core group” only need look in a mirror to see the reasons why.