Mabel VFW building sold, will become a residence once again

The wooden structure, owned by the Mabel VFW for the past 30 years was recently sold to Larry Benson of Mabel. CHARLIE WARNER/NEWS LEADER
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The wood frame building located just west of Main Street in downtown Mabel will be converted back to its original use very soon. The Mabel VFW approved the bid submitted by Larry Benson to purchase the century-old structure from the local veteran’s organization during a board meeting held Thursday, Sept. 13.

“The building needed some work and we (the VFW and VFW Auxiliary) don’t generate a lot of money,” explained VFW Commander Robert Schutte. “There were a number of parties interested in buying the building from us. So after discussing this with the Legion members in Mabel, we decided to put the building up for bids. We received several offers and approved Larry Benson’s bid. Larry is a member of the Mabel Legion and plans to remodel the building back to a residence.”

Schutte explained that about 99 percent of the VFW members in Mabel are also members of the Mabel Legion. The Legion owns a large building on the east side of Main Street that serves as a bar, event center and meeting place. Members of the Legion approved the idea of having the VFW move into their building and will share it with their fellow veterans.

According to Ed Macha of Mabel, the VFW’s building was constructed in the late 1800s as a single-family home. During the 1930s through the 1950s the structure housed the local telephone company’s switchboard and office.

“There was a phone booth in the building and folks living out in the country who needed to make long distance calls would come to town and make them at the phone office,” Macha recalled.

When the phone company built a new brick building, which it currently uses, in the late 1950s, the wood structure was converted back to a residence and served that capacity for about three decades. In the late 1980s, the building was willed to the Mabel VFW by its former owner and served as the VFW and Auxiliary’s meeting place for the past 30 years.

“About the only thing we were using our building for was our monthly VFW and Auxiliary meetings and to store our old photos and other memorabilia,” Schutte noted. “Because we don’t have a facility like the Legion to generate income (from a bar, pull tabs or special event rentals), it was getting harder and harder to keep the building up. And because just about everyone who is a VFW member also belongs to the Legion, this should make for an easy transition,” Schutte concluded.