VFW Post 1 hopes their Portraits Helping Heroes campaign will raise the funds they need to complete the building’s rehabilitation – and therefore, hang their sign.
DENVER – VFW Post 1, in Denver, was the first Foreign War Veterans station in the country. This is part of the reason why some of its older members revere the post’s nostalgic neon sign as a piece of Colorado history.
The sign was first installed at VFW’s location on Bannock Street in the 1940s. When they moved to the Santa Fe Arts District in 2014, the sign went into storage and got lost. when a new owner took over the storage business. Call it fate or luck, but a local neon sign restaurateur found it in the trash. He repaired and returned the sign to the VFW when he heard what happened through the mutual connections.
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Years later, the panel remains on the ground, lying on its side in the VFW Post 1. The VFW intended to hang it soon after its return, but the century-old building intended to anchor the panel does not. didn’t have the strength. Denver inspectors determined that the sign could not be hung under city code due to the condition of the building.
“We are trying to ensure that the building meets all the requirements necessary to be able to re-register,” said Jim Stevens, executive director of VFW Post 1 and the Veterans Arts Council. “We look at this beautiful sign every day thinking, ‘It should be there for people to enjoy. “”
VFW Post 1 started renovating their building over a year ago. Progress has stalled due to COVID and rising material costs, but they hope to complete the first phase of construction by the end of November. Finishing the front half of the building will require more funds.
They designed a campaign called Portraits Helping Heroes.
Stevens is a veteran who was shot in the head during the Vietnam War. He lost his sight when a bullet fragment moved through his brain, but that did not diminish his thirst for creating art. Stevens has been painting for years and also helps other veterans channel their energy into art. Now he wants to use his talent for the campaign.
“I’m trying to let celebrities know, hopefully local celebrities, that I would love to paint their portrayal and we’ll post it as a raffle,” Stevens said.
The first portrait to be painted is that of country music artist Michael Peterson.
Due to COVID and ongoing renovations, VFW Post 1 is relying on Zoom meetings lately. They hope that with the help of donations and the money raised through these paintings, they will be able to return to a renovated building with its old sign.
“We want to reopen because our main mission is to help veterans,” Stevens said.
To contact VFW Post 1 through their website or Facebook page.
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