Jan. 4, 2021 By Christian Murray
A Sunnyside institution came to an end last week, with the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post officially closing after being in the neighborhood for nearly 90 years.
The John Vincent Daniels Jr. VFW Post, or Post 2813, officially shut down its 43-53 43rd St. location on Dec. 31.
The closure represents the end of the VFW Post 2813 in Sunnyside, which has been in a number of locations throughout the neighborhood since 1933.
The post was co-named after a World War I soldier killed in France whose parents lived in the area. A local park, located on Roosevelt Avenue between 51st and 52nd Streets, is also named after him.
“It is a sad time in our history—both as an organization and for Sunnyside,” said Marvin Jeffcoat, a former Commander of VFW Post 2813 and a current board member. “A local piece of history has gone.”
Jeffcoat said that Post 2813 had struggled to find new members and its older members had either moved to Florida or have passed away.
“We needed to get new members and we struggled to get them,” Jeffcoat said.
He said that the COVID-19 restrictions, crimping their ability to operate, also hurt the organization. “The restrictions were the nail in the coffin.”
The decision to close was made at the Post’s November board meeting, Jeffcoat said. There was also discussion about whether the entire organization–Post 2813– should just cease to exist.
The board decided to keep the charter going and use space at the Catholic War Veterans Post 870 when needed, Jeffcoat said. The Catholic War Veterans post is located nearby at 39-46 61st St. in Woodside.
Jeffcoat said that one day Post 2813 might have a resurgence and find space of its own once again.
The position VFW Post 2813 finds itself in today is in stark contrast to the 1950s and 1960s when the organization was in its heyday and there was a large number of veterans in the area.
The post was flourishing soon after WWII and in 1951 the organization bought its own building. The post purchased 45-08 Skillman Avenue, where Holy Mountain Pre School operates out of today.
In 1965, as membership continued to swell, the post sold the Skillman Avenue building and bought a property at 41-20 Queens Blvd. It constructed a new building on that site and created one of the largest Post Rooms in New York.
It then sold the building in 1992. Today, that property is occupied by a Dunkin Donuts, a threading store, Q Studio Labs and a pizzeria.
The post, with its sales proceeds from the 41-20 Queens Blvd. building, then moved to 43-16 Queens Blvd, where Mad For Chicken is located today. It rented that location for about a decade before relocating to 51-27 Queens Blvd.
The Post moved out of its 51-27 Queens Blvd location in 2013 and to its 43rd Street location.
Jeffcoat, who is also the commander of the Catholic War Veterans Post on 61st Street, said that the Catholic post is on solid financial footing and that Post 2813 will have a secure home there.
However, he said, Catholic War Veterans is being hurt by COVID-19. He said the organization brings in revenue from renting its space for baby showers and other events, which are no longer permitted.
Jeffcoat remains hopeful, however, that Post 2813 will one day have a resurgence. “Hopefully, we can get members and get a place of our own again.”