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Historic American Legion building is renovated to serve generations of vets
BY JOHN RUCH
The historic Waldo M. Slaton Ameri
can Legion Post 140 building in Chastain
Park is freshly renovated and will serve
more generations of veterans after the
post set aside a controversial plan to de
molish it and build a larger version.
“This renovation should ensure the
viability of the building for another 50
years,” said post Commander Ken DeSim
one, who also serves as the Sandy Springs
police chief, about the roughly 80-year-
old, rustic structure at 3905 Powers Fer
The post held an open house on Vet
erans Day to show off the $100,000 ren
ovation, which repair rotting flooring,
outdated wiring and other issues in the
1930s-era building. The work was done by
Cobb County’s Gay Construction, a prom
inent firm with historic renovation ex
perience whose work includes Atlanta’s
Ponce City Market. Tom Gay, the compa
ny’s chairman, is a Marine Corps veteran
of Vietnam and a Legionnaire at the post.
“For many years this building has
served as the headquarters for the activ
ities of the post as well as for community
service,” said Gay. “We believe it is impor
tant to preserve and upgrade the facility,
and we performed the work at our cost.”
Three years ago, the post proposed de
molishing the building as outdated, past
its lifespan, and too small for growing
ranks of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
In its place would rise a much larger, $1
million building. That plan drew some
resistance among the post’s membership
and, in the outside world, from the Geor
gia Trust for Historic Preservation and
the Buckhead Heritage Society. The post
gained city zoning approval, but DeSim
one said the plan is not happening due to
“It was all fundraising-dependent.
The more money we raised, the more we
could do,” he said. “We are still taking do
nations for kitchen refurbishment and
other items that are needed.”
Some of that work yet to come in
cludes installing a sidewalk ramp and
gutters, he said.
Post 140 serves military veterans
mostly from the Buckhead, Brookhaven
and Sandy Springs areas. Its house-like
building has a stone fireplace, a deck and
walls of irregular wooden planks paint
ed green outside. The post is known for
community connections, including last
year’s opening of a T-ball field next to the
building and the renting of the facility to
such groups as the Buckhead 50 Club. Le
gion members help run a Boy Scout camp
and hold such fundraisers as a run for
Buckhead’s Shepherd Center for brain
and spinal injury treatment.
The origins of the post’s building are
not know for certain. A common assump
tion is the structure was built as a bunk-
house for workers in President Frank
lin Roosevelt’s New Deal work programs.
Post 140 was chartered in 1936, according
to DeSimone, but no one knows exactly
where, though it is believed it was not in
the Powers Ferry Road building.
What is known is that the building
has served as the Legion post since at
least 1954. At that time, it was deeded by
Fulton County on the condition it remain
in Legion use; otherwise, ownership re
verts to the county.
Slaton, the post’s namesake, died
while serving in the Army during World
War I. The post’s building also features a
prominent memorial to Staff Sgt. Ryan P.
Means, a Brookhaven native who became
a Special Forces soldier after his friend
was killed in the Sept. 11 attacks; Means
died of cancer in 2009 while serving.
With decades of social gatherings and
community events in its past, and now
many more decades to come, the build
ing and its renovation invite personal
reflection to those who have made the
“I have been a member of Post 140 for
a number of years,” said Gay, “and I am
proud of the services the post provides to
our veterans, our service members and
For more information about the post,
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