PRIOR LAKE, Minn. (FOX 9) - This Memorial Day marks the end of an era at one of the older Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) posts in Minnesota.
The Prior Lake building is getting renovated starting Tuesday and FOX 9 got a sneak peek at the plans and the purpose.
Post-parade in Prior Lake on Memorial Day, VFW Post 6208 became the social center of the city. The brick building has been a hub for veterans and friends for more than 60 years — whether it’s Memorial Day or Halloween or Christmas.
"It has been weddings and funerals and community events and chicken fries for raising money for the fire department and just about anything and everything," said Post 6209 Commander Dave Thompson.
Over the decades, they added a couple of wings to the dining area-slash-dance floor, but the place started to look like a salute to a bygone era.
"We want to give it a new look," said Post 6208 member Leroy Seuer.
Now they’ve come up with plans for updating the 11,000-square-foot building. Those plans point to one especially big change in the ceiling.
"This lay-in tile is going to be gone and it’s going to be almost like a metallic look with the lights in between every four foot, the whole length of it," said Seuer.
The idea is to make the inside of the building resemble a military hangar.
"Walking into something that kind of reminds them of military life, that gives them a little normalcy or a little remembrance for our old timers, I think it’s important," said Thompson.
They’re also hoping a more modern look could serve as a recruiting tool for a post where the average member’s age is about 70.
"The point of this is to give the post a new look for the post-9/11 veterans, so they feel more comfortable coming in with their family and friends," said Seuer.
The rifle case and POW table will stay put, but some of the decor from older wars will go into storage.
The renovation comes at a cost of about $1.1 million, and it’s mostly paid for with proceeds from the bar as well as charitable gaming and a loan. They still need to raise about $250,000, but after years of planning, construction won’t wait.
"We’re super excited that Tuesday, tomorrow, we’re actually, you know, things are going to start happening," said Thompson.
The post will stay open during construction, so you can still support the veterans by buying food or drinks or even a plaque memorial they’ll place at the brand-new bar.