Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

PVT. LUCIUS L. MITCHELL CAMP 4

St. Cloud, Florida


Preserving the memory of the Grand Army of the Republic

POST    |    GAR ST. CLOUD    |    PORTAL
GAR Memorial Hall State Historic Marker Unveiling 19 May 2017


Very significant, long awaited dedication for the city and the SUV/DUV.


GAR Post  #34 

The Seminole Land & Investment Company began to advertise the St. Cloud area (southeast of Orlando) as a retirement haven for Union Veterans. In 1909, the GAR sent agents to Florida to determine if the land was suitable to develop a retirement community or was it in fact some Florida swampland. On December 20th of that year the GAR Post was established in that town and on January 4th 1910 Post #34 received its charter under the Department of Florida. The members initially met in an old frame hall (pictured above).

Grand Army of the Republic

The Grand Army of the Republic was born at Decatur, Illinois, in 1866. But, it wasn't until the 1880s with the coming of the railroads, that large numbers of Union Veterans began to settle the remote frontier of Central Florida. Most of those early veterans lived in the "big city" of Orlando, and were members of the U. S. Grant post there.

GAR Memorial Hall


1101 Massachusetts Avenue, St. Cloud, Florida

Construction began on a new hall (pictured below) in 1914 by three of the Allied Orders then established in St. Cloud they are: L. L. Mitchell Post No. 34 GAR, Woman's Relief Corps No. 12 and the Sons of Veterans No. 8 Abraham Lincoln Camp.



The Wall in Support of New Construction


To help defray the cost of construction, subscriptions for name bricks were sold for between $1.25 and $2.00 a piece. Sadly, several of these bricks were defaced during a vandalism spree in late 1914, but work was completed by the following year.

"One of the finest buildings in the South…"

On December 3, 1915, the post installed its new officers in the new hall, which was described as "one of the finest buildings in the South, costing considerably over ten thousand dollars." The cornerstone was not officially laid until February 12, 1916, to coincide with Abraham Lincoln's birthday. It wasn't long before St. Cloud became known as Florida's "Wonder City" because it was constructed and functioning in four years. Later it was also called the "Soldier City". The hall quickly became the showcase of the city, and even served as its unofficial "opera house and movie theater." It has also served as a meeting place for the American Legion and the local Masonic Lodge.

The 60th Anniversary of the GAR

The above photograph is of the 60th anniversary of the GAR, celebrated by the St. Cloud Post 34 on 6 April 1926. This photograph came to us through the courtesy of Tad D. Campbell, Commander, Phil Sheridan Camp 4 of San Jose, California and JVC & Signals Officer, Dept. of CA & Pacific. Brother Campbell is also a member, National Committee on History.

 

But, the hall's proudest moment came when it was chosen to host the GAR Annual Encampment in 1940. By that time, though, there were fewer than 30 surviving members of the Department of Florida. And, the last local member, W. C. Russell, died at his home on Delaware Avenue on August 12, 1942, aged 98 years.