By Courtney DockAugust 16, 2013
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - The Old Post Chapel is scheduled to host a grand-reopening ribbon cutting ceremony Sept. 18 at 1 p.m. after months of renovations of the building.
The historic building, built in 1934, has been undergoing a first-of-its-kind $3 million renovation since the beginning of the year.
Lt. Col. Clyde Scott, Joint Base chaplain, said the renovations bring much-needed updates to the chapel to ensure it is up to current building codes. The renovation includes a new video monitoring system, installation of smoke detectors and an integrated alarm system and other mondernizations.
"The only bathrooms were down stairs, without any handicap capabilities," said Scott of the pre-renovated chapel. "Now we'll have ADA compliant bathrooms upstairs. And they're pouring an ADA compliant ramp down to the lower level to two brand new ADA compliant bathrooms."
These upgrades will be an improvement to the quality of life for the family members who attend funerals at the chapel. New furniture, bought by the Fort Myer Thrift Shop, will replace the old furniture in the family room.
In addition to the new bathroom facilities, there's a space for the soldiers between ceremonies called the soldier's Lounge, which includes a kitchen and showers. Scott explained this space is important because it's a place for them to spend time between ceremonies inside and out of the elements.
While the ribbon cutting happens Sept. 18, funeral operations will not be moved over immediately. Scott explained that it will take his staff a little time to prepare the chapel for weddings and move the Arlington National Cemetery funerals over from Memorial Chapel.
"There's a lot of preparation that needs to happen before we move operations over," said Scott. We've taken a lot of furniture, hymnals, books, flowers and the priests' robes over from there [Old Post Chapel] to here [Memorial Chapel] as well as liturgical supplies like communion service sets and challises.
"We need to have time to move everything back over there," he said. "And while this is going on, funerals will still be going on here until we move back over there."
Funeral operations on JBM-HH are precisely coordinated with multiple partners involved.
"The [joint base] commander owns the chapel. I manage it for her. Arlington National Cemetery chaplains conduct the funerals there in support of their mission," he said. The Old Guard supports the mission of ANC by providing ushers in the chapel as well as the Caisson Platoon. The honor guards and military service bands also play an important role in the full-honors funerals.
"We've had on average four funerals a day here most every day since January," said Scott. "It's gone very smoothly; no major problems."
Scott said funeral operations are tentatively scheduled to move back to Old Post Chapel Sept. 23.
Scott adds the seven month-long renovation was performed by Summit Construction of Frederick, Md., and managed by the Baltimore District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Every system was updated and improved. While none of the architecturally significant details of the historic building were changed, the renovation has produced a very attractive and functional facility.