WESTBROOK — A special 100th birthday present for the Stephen W. Manchester American Legion Post #62 was unveiled Monday as part of the city’s Memorial Day ceremonies.

The new sign, honoring the centennial, was designed by students in the Westbrook High School art program and Westbrook Regional Vocational Center building trades program and adorns the back of the Post’s 17 Dunn St. location.

Dennis Marrotte, the Post’s second vice commander, said the sign will be illuminated at night, thanks to work done by students in the WRVC electricity program.

Phil Spiller, a member of the Post, said the building has sat in that location for 90 years and most people who come to Riverbank Park next door have no idea what the building is, or what it represents.

“With the 100th anniversary and the 90th birthday of the building, it seems the perfect opportunity to not only honor the milestone, but celebrate its colorful history in the Westbrook community,” he said at the Memorial Day ceremony in the park, which also featured musical performances; drumroll, volley and taps; a tribute to Shawn Mckeough Jr.; a reading of the Gettysburg Address and the laying of wreaths at the park’s soldiers monument. Mckeough, 23, a senior airman at the Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas, was killed March 15 after he tried to stop an armed robbery at a North Little Rock, Arkansas  convenience store. He was a 2014 graduate of Westbrook High School.

Marrotte said again this summer, the Legion, which is always looking for new members, will be hosting a cookout at the Riverbank Park Summer Concert Series, set to take place Wednesday evenings from July 3 to Aug. 14 in the park. The series will conclude Aug. 21 with a Community Fest at the Westbrook Community Center on Bridge Street. The cookout, Marrotte said, serves as a fundraiser for the American Legion Post.

The Post was established in 1919 by local veterans of World War I. It is named for Stephen Manchester, the first Westbrook serviceman killed during World War I.

The building was built in 1929 by local contractor and two-time Westbrook mayor O.G.K. Robinson on land next to Riverbank Park. Prior to that the Legion operated in various locations, including the armory, and later in Cloudman Relief Corps Hall and Redman’s Hall.

In the early years, the Legion occupied the first floor and the second floor was used by the high school, which was then located at 765 Main St. as a gym and for graduation from 1930 to 1936.

After the construction of the high school’s Foster Street annex, the high school didn’t need the space any longer and the Legion reclaimed the second floor to use for dances and other social functions.

“This building has probably seen more community activities than any other building in modern-day Westbrook,” Spiller said.

The Legion building was at one time used by Maine National Guard’s Company D, 103rd Infantry, formed 78 years ago during World War II. Company D soldiers drilled at the Legion post before shipping out by railroad to Florida months before the attack on Pearl Harbor. Following extensive training in southern states, the unit saw action at Guadalcanal, among other key campaigns in the Pacific Theater.

That building housed the Westbrook Historical Society from 2001, when it was displaced from the old Westbrook High School, until 2012 when it moved to Westbrook Community Center.

“It’s really a historic building and a building we are proud of,” said Commander Gary York.

Michael Kelley can be reached at 780-9106 or [email protected] or on Twitter @mkelleynews.

The new sign at American Legion Post #62 was designed by students at Westbrook High School and celebrates the centennial of the Dunn Street organization.

Phil Spiller speaks during the unveiling of a new sign for the Stephen W. Manchester Amerian Legion Post #62, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

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