A Day Visit To the Lewis Army Museum, (which is not haunted, as far as we know)
Notes from the November 10 meeting of
The Rotary Club of Clover Park
Notes and photos by Tom McClellan
 
For this week’s meeting, we took a field trip to North Fort Lewis, visiting the Lewis Army Museum.  We were welcomed by museum director Erik Flint, who briefed us about how the museum came about, what its current mission is, and why it is an “Army museum” instead of covering all military branches.
 
 
We met in an upstairs gallery room, the resurrected 9th Infantry Division gallery, containing paintings made by soldiers during the Vietnam War. 
 
 
The building was started in 1917 by the Salvation Army, to be used as a hotel for family members who were visiting their soldiers during training at what then was called Camp Lewis, one of several camps established around the U.S. to train American soldiers for deployment to Europe for World War I.  It was named the Red Shield Inn, a reference to the Salvation Army's logo.  The construction was finished in 1919, just in time for the winding down of the activation of soldiers.  The Salvation Army then sold the building to the Army for $1, and the Army used it for transitional housing, basically a hotel for soldiers arriving and departing.
 
 
It was a different sort of hotel than modern standards, with small rooms, and guests shared a common bathroom down the hall.  By the 1970s, the Army considered it to be obsolete and the building was slated for demolition.  But instead it was saved to be turned into a museum in 1973. 
 
Director Erik Flint came in 2015, and has supervised a lot of renovation efforts for both the building and its exhibits.  They have several volunteer docents, and are always looking for more.
 
 
 
 
The museum has a training mission, helping current soldiers understand the history of the Army’s tactics and equipment, so they can be better able to operate with current arms and equipment.  Soldiers get to go “hands on” with the old equipment and weapons. 
 
Among the restoration efforts has been to rebuild the original lobby, as it would have looked during the building’s time as a hotel. 
 
 
Other Announcements
Next week we are back at Carr’s for a normal 1230 meeting, where Nichole Ayres will be our guest speaker.  She is from the Cohen Military Family Clinic in Lakewood, and will be talking about suicide prevention.
 
There is a change for the following week’s meeting, which will be on Monday, Nov. 22 at Carr’s.  We will still get lunch from the Carr’s menu, but then instead of a guest speaker, we will all get to work helping to pack Thanksgiving food baskets for needy families at Custer Elementary School.
 
We will be back to a normal Wednesday meeting on Dec. 1, when Sue Potter will be our speaker, talking about the mission of Nourish Pierce County.