Danville celebrates re-dedication of Veterans Memorial Building


Several hundred residents crowded the sidewalks and side streets of downtown Danville on Saturday to celebrate the grand opening of the Veterans Memorial Building. The newly renovated veterans building and senior center was rededicated by Mayor Candace Andersen and Coast Guard Adm. Mary O'Donnell, along with many dignitaries and a color guard.

After more than a year and a half of construction, the $8.1 million project has reopened to San Ramon Valley residents on the corner of Hartz and Prospect Avenues. . Originally built in 1925, the expanded building will now serve several veterans groups and hold various senior activities.

"When we think of veterans, all of us have a different view that comes to mind…there is a deep gratitude that we feel for those who serve, for those who protect our freedom and for those who cannot protect themselves," Andersen said. "This is one very small way to show our gratitude to those who sacrificed so much to defend our nation. We are a community that cares."

O'Donnell called the names of 15 military heroes in attendance that served in WWII and the Korean War and described the travels of the American flag that was raised outside the building. The flag traveled around the country for five months -- including stations at the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery – before coming to Danville to rest, she said.

"If it wasn't for those that came before us, we wouldn't be able to enjoy this today. For all of those that made it possible for me to be up here, I say God bless you and thank you," O'Donnell said.

After a ribbon cutting on the front steps of the original building, residents were invited inside to view renovations to the 87-year-old structure. The front of the building, which has been largely preserved, now has an elevator to provide access to all three floors, a military library with room for 1,500 tomes and a board room. Windows facing Hartz Avenue at the front of the building will become French doors opening onto a veranda.

The foyer of the building contains two memorabilia rooms with uniforms and mementos from all wars as well as photos of Valley residents who have served.

"It feels marvelous, just terrific that this dream has come to fruition. It's going to be the crown jerel, the biggest project Danville has undertaken," said Nathan Greene, a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Viet Nam Veterans of Diablo Valley. Greene was among the group of veterans and residents who originally suggested a renovation of the building in 2006.

The main room, which runs along Prospect Avenue, will be able to seat 265 people when fully open, but can also be divided into three rooms for smaller events. The main room will be available for events, weddings and parties. Seniors will have a separate entrance off East Prospect Avenue, along with offices and conference rooms.

Outside the main building, facing Prospect, will be a memorial statute dedicated to Lance Cpl. Joshua "Chachi" Corral, who died in Afghanistan in November 2011. A "battlefield cross," the memorial would feature boots, a rifle and a helmet with two plaques -- one which describes the genesis of the battlefield cross and one dedicating the memorial to Chachi.

Although the structure has been able to withstand every natural disaster so far, renovations include better earthquake protection and the entire building is now ADA (American with Disabilities Act) compliant.

Danville resident Martha Miller donated money to the building in memory of her husband, Kirby, a WWII vet who used the original Vets Hall. Miller was very impressed with the building and said she may use it for senior activities.

"My husband was a Marine in the Pacific and I wanted to donate money because I wanted this to be preserved for the veterans," she said.

The Veterans Memorial Building is located at 400 Hartz Avenue. For more information, visit the town of Danville website.


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Posted by Chris S.
a resident of Diablo
on May 1, 2012 at 9:14 pm

I was pleased to see the renovation of the Vet's Hall.. retained much of the original look. I used to go there to check out books in the 1950's when Root's Italian Restaurant was across the street and Acre's Market with it's wood plank floors on the other side of West Prospect.

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Posted by Informed Resident
a resident of another community
on May 1, 2012 at 9:50 pm

It really was a nice event. Kudos to CCCounty (Supervisor Mary Piepho) and the Town of Danville (Karen Stepper & Mike Shimansky) for making this happen.

Our Vets deserve no less.

Like this comment
Posted by [removed]
a resident of another community
on May 2, 2012 at 6:57 am

Dear Editor,

The renovation of the building offers positive opportunities for community use and that should be celebrated. Being a memorial to veterans applies to that very small faction that still wish to remember WAR. As a Viet Nam veteran, I do not want to be reminded of WAR and its failure of humanity, so I hope that the residents of Danville will look to this building as a peaceful gathering place and a symbol for their pursuit of global peace.

We all should be hopeful that WE, the people, can learn our need to create far fewer veterans of foreign wars and stop celebration of WAR itself. There are many things that Danville's business district needs and such renovation might be an appropriate first step to the anchor retail space and overall redevelopment that will once again invite regional shoppers away from the dominance of Walnut Creek.

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Posted by Informed Resident
a resident of another community
on May 2, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Back on topic...

This was a very nice grand opening.

Kudos to CCCounty (Supervisor Mary Piepho) and the Town of Danville (Karen Stepper & Mike Shimansky) for making this happen.

The building looks fantastic.

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Posted by [removed]
a resident of another community
on May 3, 2012 at 6:58 am

Dear Gina,

As many of us participate in your news process, we often provide information that can be developed into home page features. In this case, there is a small community of veterans that will celebrate this new building as a memorial. Thus, the news story is "how else will the building be used that benefits Danville's population? Who will be the users? And how will such usage bring more shoppers to the Danville business district?"

I took my daily walk in Danville yesterday after shopping at Leslie's Pool Supplies and walked by the very nice new portion of the Veteran's Memorial Building. It is obviously planned for significant use, so may we have the city's plan for such usage?

Today, I will return to walking in Walnut Creek and walk past the vacant land that was WC's Veteran's Hall and again consider how that property can be used to benefit Walnut Creek as the shopping hub in our region? It is a very similar question.

It's a good story!

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Posted by Informed Resident
a resident of another community
on May 3, 2012 at 9:50 am

Wow! You seem to be infatuated with a lot of things (including running a publication). Maybe it is time for you to provide us with a bio or resume so we can judge for ourselves how you have become such an expert on so many things? If that doesn’t work, maybe consider starting your own paper, or running for elected office-instead of telling others how to do their business. Oh wait, I forgot you have a self-imposed prohibition against running for office. Thank goodness!

Back to the subject of the Veterans Hall, it strikes me as insensitive for you to be suggesting other uses for the building. In case you missed it, the building is a Veteran’s Hall to HONOR our Veterans. The paint is not even dry and you are trying to minimize it. Then you have the audacity to ask, how will it bring more shoppers? Pretty pathetic, even for you.

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Posted by [removed]
a resident of Danville
on May 3, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Dear Gina,

Many thanks for my fellow veterans referring me to the Danville website for "facilities." Here is the needed information on intended usage for

Located right in the heart of downtown Danville, the Veterans Memorial Building is a central gathering spot for veterans, seniors and the community. Built in 1925, the veterans building hosts meetings and events of our area veterans groups as well as classes and programs for seniors. In addition, the facility's large community room can be rented by residents for use in special events, such as weddings.

In April 2012, the facility reopened to the public following a multi-million dollar renovation/reconstruction project. The work doubled the available space of the building, as well as creating additional office space for the veterans groups and class space for the many senior programs/services offered by the Town of Danville.

Rental information is available at Web Link

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Posted by Informed Resident
a resident of another community
on May 3, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Yeah Hal, we all got that during the grand opening. I guess you missed the senior center annexed to the building? Of course there will be a certain amount of multi use and rent to offset those "multi-million dollar" costs, but that is not the primary use. As for your comment about how many shoppers it will bring to Danville-well that is just odd. I think once again you are missing the point. Wouldn't be the first time right?

Since you are a "fellow veteran" and so concerned about its use, I wonder why did you not attend?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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