WILTON — Come June 1, the Wilton Lions Club will take over the American Legion Hall at 864 Main St.

“It will be called the Clubhouse,” King Lion Paul Berkey said. “The deed will be transferred to the club on June 1.”

Struggling to retain membership, the American Legion opted to transfer the hall but will try to keep its charter and will continue to meet at the hall, Leland Cushman said.

“We’ll try to keep going,” he said.

The American Legion in Wilton was active for many years, he said. The hall was built in 1951 and the group met at another site before that.

“All our members are dying off,” Cushman said. “Only seven, at the most, come to meetings. There are no new members and younger veterans don’t want to join.”


At 67, Cushman is one of the younger ones, he said.

When someone suggested giving the hall to the town, Cushman thought the Lions Club should have it because of all they do for the community.

The hall will continue to be used for the community, Berkey said. The Lions will rent the hall to groups and individual events, just as the Legion did.

“We’ll also use it for some of our activities,” Berkey said, including plans for a hunters breakfast.

“The building needs a coat of paint and some cleaning but it’s not in bad shape,” he said. “The monuments and flag will remain on the front lawn as long as we have it. We owe it to our veterans.”

After June 1, signage for the Lions Club will go up and the work will begin.


A nonprofit organization with about 61 members, the Wilton Lions Club is there to serve, Berkey said.

Funds raised throughout the year are given back to the community, he said. The club helps through scholarships and donations for the food pantry, Little League baseball, the Blueberry Festival, Wilton Academy’s sixth-grade field trip, eyeglasses, hearing aids, Christmas trees, Operation Santa Claus, Special Olympics in Jay and the Winter Special Olympics.

“So far this fiscal year the club has given over $23,000 to the community,” Berkey said.

A large, annual yard sale on the third weekend in June raises the majority of funds, he said. The sale is planned for Friday through Sunday, June 20-22, next to The Big Apple on Routes 2 and 4.

The Lions also raise money with a blueberry pancake breakfast during the Blueberry Festival, he said. 

Tickets are being sold for a 50/50 raffle with all cash prizes. One thousand tickets at $5 each will be sold. Winners will be drawn during the Blueberry Festival. There will be a $1,000 award, two $500 awards and 10 $100 awards.

The Lions Club meets the second and fourth Monday of the month, he said. Starting in September, they’ll probably start meeting at the Clubhouse, he said.

“We’re excited to see it happen and we’re happy for the community,” Berkey said.

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