Collinsville takes over and will care for Veterans Building
BY RHETT MORGAN World Staff Writer
Monday, May 07, 2012
5/07/12 at 8:05 AM
COLLINSVILLE - The Veterans Building is close to Mayor Stan Sallee's heart.
And rightly so.
His grandfather, Lebanese immigrant Sol H. Bayouth, pushed for its construction in 1946.
"He was passionate. He drove this," Sallee said. "He made it happen and united people in the community.
"I've heard the stories of Sol walking into businesses and not asking, but telling, 'You're going to donate. That's not enough. I want more.' And all of this was in his broken English."
Bayouth's persuasiveness paid off.
The year after World War II ended, the building went up at a cost of $7,248. But after decades of prosperity, the structure fell into disrepair, closing its doors for good in November, said Marie Gillespie, president of the American Legion Auxiliary.
"Through the years, memberships have decreased and funding been difficult," she said. "Our little group is getting smaller and older, and we couldn't do the work on it."
They no longer will have to.
The American Legion John Daniels Post No. 2 and Auxiliary recently donated the Veterans Building to the town, which plans to renovate it.
"It's really a win-win," Sallee said. "We have the opportunity and the ability to file for grants and get different funding to make this building more than it is now.
"It's always been a great building, but it's always needed lots of improvements."
Located near Ninth and Main streets, the Veterans Building has been home to the American Legion the structure's entire existence and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 3077 until the VFW moved to another venue some years ago, Gillespie said.
The building also has played host to 66 Tri-County Fairs, "thousands of pancake breakfasts," wedding receptions, class and family reunions, baby showers, Chamber of Commerce meetings and square dance clubs, Sallee said.
He estimates it will take $50,000 to $75,000 to make the building functional again.
"It's a tremendous honor for me to have an opportunity to restore this building and restore our heritage and the pride the community had for this," said Sallee, who is leaving his mayoral position Monday to seek the state House District 36 seat. "Beyond the veterans, it's also been a staple for the community.
"Although it won't be owned by the veterans, it's still their home. It's also going to be the community's home, as it has been."
Original Print Headline: A building worth saving
Rhett Morgan 918-581-8395
Marie Gillespie, president of the American Legion Auxiliary, and outgoing Collinsville Mayor Stan Sallee stand in front of the Veterans Building, which was built in 1946. The American Legion recently donated the building to the town, which plans to renovate it. RHETT MORGAN / Tulsa World
Veterans Building in Collinsville in 1946. Courtesy