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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Nashua VFW post finds new home after yearslong search

By DEAN SHALHOUP
Staff Writer

NASHUA – Nearly 3½ years after they gathered to bid a tearful goodbye to their Quincy Street home of more than nine decades, members of Nashua’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 483 can finally celebrate the news they’d longed to hear: “We have a new home.”

It comes in the form of a large, rambling 21/2-story building at the corner of East Pearl Street and White Avenue, just two blocks east of 2-4 Quincy St., the only home today’s membership has ever known. ...

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NASHUA – Nearly 3½ years after they gathered to bid a tearful goodbye to their Quincy Street home of more than nine decades, members of Nashua’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 483 can finally celebrate the news they’d longed to hear: “We have a new home.”

It comes in the form of a large, rambling 21/2-story building at the corner of East Pearl Street and White Avenue, just two blocks east of 2-4 Quincy St., the only home today’s membership has ever known.

“We signed the papers Friday (and) got the keys,” Lew Chipola, a past Post 483 and state VFW commander, said Sunday.

A few things need to be done before the new home, at 8 E. Pearl St., is ready for occupancy, Chipola said.

“There’s not a lot of stuff that needs to be done, but we’re not quite ready for occupancy yet,” Chipola said. “But it won’t be long before we’re there full time.”

The VFW acquired the building, classified by the city as an office building, from Tri-Bob Realty, which has owned it since 1995, according to city records. It has roughly 6,100 square feet and is assessed for tax purposes at about $200,000. The sale price wasn’t immediately available.

It was nearly four years ago, in November 2012, that Post 483 membership voted – albeit with regret – in favor of the leadership’s proposal to sell the circa-1900 building.

The decision to sell was difficult, then-Cmdr. Barry Palmer said at the time. But it was also necessary: Membership rolls were shrinking, revenue from its canteen – its bar and lounge – was decreasing, and the post faced a costly upgrade of its HVAC and sprinkler systems.

Palmer said then that the decision was motivated solely by economics, emphasizing that the post had no intention of closing or disbanding.

With the completion of Friday’s purchase, Palmer’s oft-repeated comment – “There will always be a VFW Post 483 in Nashua. ... It will just be in another location” – was confirmed.

The closing ceremony, on April 7, 2013, came about six months after members voted to sell the building.

Among those present was World War II veteran Louis Prince, who, at 93, was born in 1920 – the same year that Post 483 moved into the Quincy Street building.

A Telegraph story reported that some 33,812 days came and went since the building’s “mustering,” or opening, as Post 483’s home on Aug. 10, 1920, and the closing ceremony.

Not long after the emotional farewell, the Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter announced plans to move into the space. After extensive upgrades and renovations, the agency was able to “do what we’ve always wanted to do: Get our clients inside as soon as possible so they can take advantage of our other services, instead of waiting in line outside,” Soup Kitchen board member John Fisher said at the time.

Palmer, meanwhile, said at the closing ceremony that while membership had dipped by nearly half, to about 550, and “leaving what is familiar brings a sense of sadness and melancholy,” there was also reason for remaining optimistic looking ahead.

Acknowledging the new home, unknown at the time, was “going to be smaller,” Palmer said the organization is “still going to do the same thing.”

“Post 483 will be here long after I am gone and forgotten,” he added.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443, dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DeanS.