Bala Cynwyd, PA

Bala Cynwyd Post Legion begins renovating its historic lodge

Nick Fiorellini

After celebrating a hundred years of service, the Bala Cynwyd Post Legion chapter begins renovating its historic lodge.

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The Vandiver-Moylan American Legion PA Post 355.Google Street View

BALA CYNWYD, PA — An outdated roof in need of repairs. A kitchen filled with old appliances. An inaccessible entryway that limits who can enter the lodge.

The Vandiver-Moylan American Legion PA Post 355 needs some tender loving care.

Since the group’s inception, the American Legion provides life-changing assistance and guidance for veterans, military personnel, their families, and communities in thousands of ways every day around the world. That’s why, just after World War I, the original members of the Bala Cynwyd American Legion chapter established themselves. By 1937, the construction of their lodge, which memorializes Thomas D. Vandiver, who was killed in action during the war when he was 24 years old, was completed.

The building has been in use ever since.

For a few years now, Naomi Mastrocola, the Post Legion’s current commander, and others have noted that the building needed some updates. With how the building currently stands, Thelma Moylan, the first-ever elected female commander of the post, cannot access the building because of her wheelchair.

“We need these changes,” Mastrocola tells NewsBreak. “How can you not have access for a military person [and their loved ones] who are disabled?”

Along with the Bala Cynwyd Post Legion chapter, the lodge serves as a banquet hall for events. Local organizations, especially those serving the youth like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, also meet at the lodge.

Mastrocola also notes that the accessibility issue doesn’t just impact those who are disabled or in a wheelchair — it takes a toll on everyone who wants to use the space. If more people were able to enter the lodge, she claims, the space would become a more productive site, where the community can come together, exchange ideas, and do good deeds.

“By getting the [building to be more] handicap accessible, I think I way more folks will come in,” she says. “And the more minds you have - working in unison - the better it’s going to be for everybody [...] and the more things you’ll successfully accomplish.”

To afford these renovations, the Post Legion is raising funds through an online fundraiser. You can donate to their fundraiser here.

According to the Post Legion’s GoFundMe, the money raised will immediately go directly towards costs associated with a new roof ($20,400), repairing the building’s fireplace ($15,000), a new heater ($6,000), and installing a handicap lift by the main entryway ($30,000). In the future, the Post Legion looks to renovate its kitchen ($25,000), buy new furniture ($2,500), install an outside storage unit ($3,000), and purchase a golf cart ($5,000).

Besides accessibility issues, Mastrocola says finding a solution to the building’s limited parking is the biggest issue the lodge faces. She believes the purchase of a golf cart would help alleviate these issues, especially during the wintertime.

As of June 23, through a combination of private donations and those through GoFundMe, the Post Legion has raised $13,200.

On Monday, June 21, 2021, construction officially began on the lodge’s roof. The restoration should be completed shortly.

Since the lodge is used by so many people and organizations in the area, Mastrocola believes any money raised — and changes made to the building — are greater than the Post Legion itself.

“The local community is one of the main things we’re focused on,” she says. “We’re not a drinking club or a social club. We’re here for history and for community — and a lot of that focuses on the youth.”

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Nick Fiorellini is a freelancer writer from the Philadelphia area.

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