VA gives tours to remember a century of aiding soldiers

By Lesley Jenkins
Star staff
As part of the Centennial Celebration at the James H. Quillen VA Medical Center, guided historic tours will be given of the 100-year-old campus. Dan Kyte, chief of the domiciliary and unofficial historian of the VA, has been organizing the tours.
Guided tours will be conducted Monday through Friday until Oct. 10 and will be free of charge. The tours will include a history of the original buildings, their architectural background, and how they function today. Each tour will begin at the entrance of the old hospital, Building 69, at 9 and 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily and will last about one hour. Various volunteers will be leading the tours with a 15-passenger van.
Tours of the theatre and Carnegie Library will also be available but only on a limited basis. The final two tours of the original structures of the theatre and library will be held Oct. 3 and 6 during the same scheduled time as the campus tours.
The VA theatre was built in 1905 for $19,700. The Carnegie Library was not included in the original plans of Mountain Home, but Congressman Walter Brownlow wrote Andrew Carnegie for a donation. Carnegie donated the entire $25,000 for the 1904 construction. Books were donated by publishing companies.
Shuttle bus tours of the National Cemetery, home to 10,000 gravesites, will be available on Oct. 5 from 1 to 5 p.m. Some dignitaries and officials buried there are Congressman Walter Brownlow, the key individual who persuaded the board of governors to fund a soldier's home in the first district, three medal of honor recipients, and George Maledon, also known as "Prince of Hangmen."
The celebration began Sept. 26 with an opening ceremony attended by over 500 guests and officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs, guests from the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London and other federal, state and local officials. A parade was led on Sept. 27 by Congressman Bill Jenkins.
Judy Fowler-Argo, Mountain Home public affairs officer, said, "The parade was great. This was our first time doing it and overall it has gone very well."
A private reception was also held for the British guests from Royal Hospital Chelsea. Dr. Carl Gerber, director of the QVAMC presented them with a key to the city of Johnson City, declaring them honorary guests.