Posted By Norman Gasbarro on December 11, 2010
The Lykens Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) Building is located on North Second Street in Lykens Borough, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. Traveling into Lykens, from either direction on Route 209, turn north at Market Street and proceed to North Second Street. Turn right on North Second Street and the building is located on the right. In front of it stands the monument to Lykens and Wiconisco area Civil War veterans. The postal address is 626 North Second Street, Lykens, PA 17048.
The sign over the door reads:
Post 232 and Relief Corps 101. G.A.R. Organized Oct 27, 1881, April 12, 1888. Lykens Area Senior Citizens.
Over 150 years old, the G.A.R. building is believed to have been built as a church. Later was used as a meeting house for the G.A.R. and other groups, a fire station, a hospital, a private residence, an armory, and a senior citizens activity center.
In front of the building is a monument to the 400 plus veterans of the Civil War, many of whom were members of the Heilner G.A.R. Post No. 232 who met here following organization in 1881. Presently, it is not known how long the G.A.R. occupied the building and when the Heilner G.A.R. Post ceased to exist. Normally, G.A.R. posts were disbanded when the last members died. They usually existed into the early 20th century. From the large list of members named on the monument, this post could have lasted at least until around 1920 as many were still alive at that time. Further research is needed to determine whether they continued to occupy or meet at this facility or lost their meeting place as occurred at other posts.
The question of what happened to the relics and records of this post must be asked.
It is probably possible to construct a chronology of activities through a thorough search of local newspapers. However, until searchable digital copies of the newspapers are available, the process would be quite tedious and eye-straining using old microfilm reader technology.
The activities of the Women’s Relief Corps No. 101 should not be ignored. As previously stated, the Civil War monument in front of the building was a project of the women of this post – quite unusual for G.A.R. and Civil War monuments in the Lykens Valley area. Reconstructing the history of the 101st corps will also be a challenge. What has happened to their relics and records?
The G.A.R. Building is on the National Register of Historic Places. A bronze plaque on the front of the northeast corner reads:
Built 1852 has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior.
In 1985, restoration of the building was accomplished under the direction of James S. Facinelli. Jim is the owner and president of Restorations Unlimited, Inc. (incorporated in 1977), a design-build, and general contracting company, which specializes in the restoration, rehabilitation, and high-end renovation of older buildings. Jim’s responsibilities included job coordinating/scheduling, supervising, estimating, consulting, customer relations, and lead carpentry.
Once the restoration was completed, the building was leased by its owner, the Borough of Lykens, as a senior citizens center. At the time this building was photographed in 2010, it looked unoccupied and one of the entrances had a rusty door. It is not known at this time whether the building is still actively used.