Posted tagged ‘AFRH’

The Old Soldiers’ Home Library Building

August 13, 2014

I recently was lucky enough to find two old photographs of the library building at the Soldiers’ Home. The library building was designed by Smithmeyer and Pelz in 1877 and razed in 1910, 33 years later.

The first photo shows the library in the background with the Sherman building in the foreground. As the Sherman building was built in 1889, and as Stanley Hall (built in 1897) isn’t in the photo, it likely dates to the early 1890s.

Library 1880s(Cabinet Card of Sherman Hall and the Soldiers’ Home library ca. 1890s).

The second photo was taken ca. 1905, again showing the library with Stanley Hall in the back ground.

Library 1905(A magic lantern slide of the library and Stanley Hall ca. 1905).

The library was originally designed for use as an officers billiard room and bowling alley, but its purpose was altered in the midst of construction from that of a clubhouse to a library for enlisted men. Due to its enormous building expense, the elaborate porch was not added until five years after the main structure was finished.

The Soldiers’ Home governor and other members of the board were never overly enthusiastic about the building, and shortly after it was completed passed a rule that future Soldiers’ Home buildings would be designed by military architects.

By 1910, the library was overflowing with 8,000 books and the commissioners decided to build Grant Hall — a much-needed new dormitory — on the site of the library.

The map below shows the grounds of the Soldiers’ Home in 1891, with the site of the library building noted.

1891 Soldiers' Home map with library identified

3rd Annual Fourth of July Celebration at the Soldiers’ Home is Friday

July 2, 2014

The lower grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home will be open to the community as part of the Fourth of July celebration again this year. In addition to the information provided by the flier below, the Friends of the Soldiers Home blog includes a full list of events and its schedule.

July4flier

2nd Annual Spring Fling at the Soldiers’ Home Scheduled for May 3rd

March 31, 2014

The Friends of the Soldiers Home has schedule their second annual Spring Fling for May 3rd this year. Last year’s event included an afternoon of games, food, and music, so you may want to mark your calendars if you want to enjoy a relaxing afternoon on the grounds of the Soldiers’ Home.  The flyer is below:

Spring Fling-page-001

Oktoberfest at the Soldiers’ Home Scheduled for Sunday, October 6th

September 24, 2013

The second annual Soldiers’ Home Oktoberfest will be held on Sunday, October 6th. Details can be found on the flyer below, or at the Friends of the Soldiers Home Website.

Oktoberfest 2013

The Barbed Wire is Gone!

September 4, 2013
The uninviting barbed wire is no longer a fixture of the fence.

The uninviting barbed wire is no longer a fixture of the fence.

At long last, the barbed wire atop the Soldiers’ Home’s historic wrought iron fence along Park Place is gone. Back in May 2010, I reported that the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH) was planning to remove the barbed wire … but this was a long-term goal of theirs. I couldn’t be happier that that day finally came  to pass.

In addition to removing the barbed wire, the AFRH also plans to paint the fence. I’m not sure when this work will begin, but was left with the impression that it would be soon.  I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing this work completed and having the fence once again becoming part of the beauty of the Soldiers’ Home grounds.

Tour the Historic Buildings and Grounds of the Soldiers’ Home!

August 21, 2013

Mark your calendars if you’ve ever wanted to take a tour of the Soldiers’ Home that includes going inside some of the historic buildings! In order to participate in this FREE event, simply show up at the Visitor Education Center. Tours of the ‘historic loop’ begin every half hour, starting at 10:30 a.m. Tours should last approx. 1 hour with the last tour beginning at 2 p.m.

The announcement from the email blast and Lincoln’s Cottage Website is below:

Soldiers Home tour

Sneak Peek of AFRH’s New Scott Building’s Hall of Honor

July 19, 2013
The 3-deminsional representation of the Soldiers' and Airman's seal is proudly situation in the center of the room.

The 3-deminsional representation of the Soldiers’ and Airman’s seal is proudly situation in the center of the room.

Bright and early yesterday morning I, along with Alexandria resident Rick Tucker, got a preview of the Armed Forces Retirement Home’s Hall of Honor.  Should you have an opportunity to visit the AFRH’s new Scott Building, be sure to check this feature out.

The Hall of Honor is part museum exhibition and part resident memorabilia. In short, the hall tells the history of the Soldiers’ Home with interpretive text, historic images, and Soldiers’ Home artifacts. Upon entering the space, the center of the room is dominated by three rifles supporting a drum. I thought this was brilliant, as it is a three-dimensional representation of the Soldiers’ and Airman’s Home seal. The case sits atop a two-dimensional version of the seal that is viable when the case is removed. Surrounding this in the floor are the seals of the four branches of the military.

In the four quarters of the room are display cases that contain memorabilia from AFRH residents. The intent is to have the objects in these cases rotate so that there is always something new to see.

Along the eastern wall is a history display, including a timeline, specific to the Soldiers’ Home. This differs in the exhibition along the western wall which focuses on life at the home, including neighborhood use of the park, as told in historic images  (both Mr. Tucker and I had contributed historic photographs for the exhibit), text, and objects.

Old regulations for visitors to the Soldiers' Home that once greeted those entering the grounds for enjoyment.

Old regulations for visitors to the Soldiers’ Home that once greeted those entering the grounds for enjoyment.

All in all, I was extremely impressed with the amount of detail and high quality of execution. One of my favorite objects was actually a poster entitled Regulations to Govern Visitors Entering Grounds of Soldiers’ Home. While weather beaten and worn, among the rules on the sign are:

  • No Dogs allowed to enter the grounds of the Home. Small dogs in carriages may be taken through the grounds remaining with owners.
  • Pedestrians NOT ALLOWED TO WALK ON THE GRASS.
  • Equestrians not allowed off the roads.
  • RACING AND FAST DRIVING IS PROHIBITED.
  • Picnics and like parties must obtain permission from the Governor.
  • [Men?] and boys with guns and slings not permitted to enter the grounds.
  • SHOOTING, trapping, or otherwise …. game is strictly PROHIBITED.

If nothing else, the rules provide and interesting insight into another time.

Below are more photographs of the exhibition space.

Upon entering the space, the 3-Dimensional Home seal is surrounded by the seals of the four branches of the military embeded in the floor.

Upon entering the space, the 3-Dimensional Home seal is surrounded by the seals of the four branches of the military embedded in the floor. The free standing display cases contain rotating exhibits of resident artifacts and memorabilia.

The eastern wall contains an overview of the Soldiers' Home's history, including a timeline.

The eastern wall contains an overview of the Soldiers’ Home’s history, including a timeline.

The west wall contains photos and artifact related to live and liesure at the Soldiers' Home.

The west wall contains photos and artifact related to live and leisure at the Soldiers’ Home.


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