FAIRHOPE – The American Legion Post 199 members hope to repair severe storm damage to their building, not demolish the century-old structure, Chad Jackson, post senior vice commander, said.
Hurricane Sally damaged the two-story structure when it struck Baldwin County on Sept. 16. Jackson said that since the storm hit, rumors have spread around the community that the structure overlooking Mobile Bay will be torn down. He said members plan to save the building, if possible.
“While the rumors are untrue, the attention that it’s garnered is a good thing to help us get the message out that we will need community support,” Jackson said. “It’s no one’s intention to demolish this building unless it’s absolutely necessary for the health and safety of members and the public.”
The building is more than 100 years old, Jackson said. It has been the home of the American Legion post since 1962.
“This building is of significance to our community and we understand. We value that building too,” Jackson said. “We’ve got a lot of use out of that building, but as a result of Sally, it’s in rough shape, but we’re gathering information, doing our due diligence and we will go from there and we will inform our membership and it’s up to membership to decide where we’re going to go.”
Post members are seeking bids on the costs of repairing the damage and working with the organization’s insurance company to determine how much the group will have to pay. Jackson said one estimate is that the deductible could cost the post about $30,000.
“We’ve been in receipt of a structural engineering report that shows some pretty severe structural damage to the building, so yes, we are very much in the informational gathering phase where we are reaching out to contractors trying to develop cost estimates,” Jackson said. “We are in negotiations with our insurance company to see what they are going to cover and from there, we will be able to see what gaps there may be, but it’s going to be a long road ahead and we’re going to require a lot of community support really to reopen the doors.”
In addition to the damage from Sally to the Legion building, Hurricane Zeta damaged the post pier in October. Members and volunteers had been working for more than two months to renovate the pier when the storm surge from Zeta damaged the structure.
The post building has been closed since it was damaged. Jackson said anyone wanting to get in touch with the post can check the group’s Facebook page or contact the organization by mail at PO Box 473, Fairhope, AL. 36533.