By Kim Waldron, FORSCOMJune 14, 2011
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (June 14, 2011) " Along with all the modern amenities and state-of-the-art technology offered here to Soldiers and Army civilians in the new U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) and U.S. Army Reserve Command (USARC) Headquarters, here, a colorful bit of pre-Civil War history will be part of the FORSCOM Chaplain’s Office.
Three stained glass pieces that came originally from the Cadet Chapel at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., have been brought from FORSCOM’s current home at Fort McPherson, Ga.
Elements of the stained glass date back to 1836 when the Cadet Chapel was built, a year before Gen. Braxton Bragg, for whom Fort Bragg was named, graduated from the academy.
In 1921, when that chapel was dismantled to make room for a larger student population, the glass was shipped to Atlanta, where it found a new home at Fort McPherson’s main post chapel.
The chapel at Fort McPherson has had an interesting history of its own. Originally constructed as a guard house in 1886, the building later housed 16 Spanish prisoners during the Spanish-American War (1898) and was a P.O.W. stockade for German prisoners in World War I. It became a chapel in 1921, which function it had served until the building was de-commissioned in May of this year.
The stained glass window had rested in the transom in the Fort McPherson post chapel sanctuary. The two other pieces were in the sanctuary doors. All three pieces were carefully removed, packaged and shipped here last fall after the FORSCOM chaplain, Col. Mike Tarvin, had coordinated the transfer with the Fort McPherson garrison chaplain.
“We decided to bring the glass to preserve some of the history of our Army in our new headquarters,” said Tarvin. “It was a team effort to get this to happen. Mike Frnka and Gary Goulden, with the FORSCOM BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) office, did so much logistical work to see this through.”
The window is now in place in the Prayer Room and augments the installed fluorescent lighting by allowing light from the outer corridor to filter in through its unique patchwork design.
“It was certainly a challenge to get such a fragile artifact into the new headquarters,” said Darrin Stevens, project superintendent for Hensel Phelps Construction, the company overseeing the construction of the new FORSCOM/RUSARC headquarters. “We wanted to make sure we wouldn’t do anything to damage such a great piece of history.”
The two doors did not fit modern specifications for doors, so a company has been retained to modify the doors already in place in the new building’s Chaplain’s office and the Prayer room in order to frame the stained glass pieces from the old doors.
In the meantime, the Prayer Room stained glass window will serve as a constant reminder to FORSCOM Soldiers and civilians of the importance of spiritual resilience and the history and tradition the command brings with it from Fort McPherson.
U.S. Army Forces Command is the Army's largest command and the generating force provider for combatant commanders worldwide. It is moving to Fort Bragg in accordance with the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure legislation.