The American Legion - Troop 80 - Downers Grove, IL

Our History

In 1919, a group of WWI veterans got together and organized the first Downers Grove Legion Post and named it in honor of Alexander Bradley Burns. On July 7, 1919 they met in the Masonic rooms at the GAR hall, adopted the Alexander Bradley Burns Post name and made the application on July 21, 1919.

By 1922, the membership had waned and in 1923 only two meetings were held. In 1924 Commander Henry Swift was elected and acted to reinvigorate the membership. At this time there was no celebration of the Fourth of July by the town or any organization. Post 80 began the celebration that remains one of the village's most important annual dates. Eventually a carnival was added, which helped build the coffers of the Post. Up until the village took charge of the fireworks, Post 80 provided this entertainment by itself, holding the display near its present home.

From 1931 to 1933, the depression years, the activity at the Post fell off dramatically and the service officer seemed to be working constantly helping members…sometimes just for relief. Commander J. Richard Hawkins got things moving and appointed Charles Dyer to head up a youth week committee. Out of this grew an annual celebration, a soap box derby and the election of a permanent Junior Legion Unit. This unit was responsible for many activities such as a Drum and Bugle Corps and many athletic teams and events.

In 1936 the Post chartered its first Boy Scout Troop, Troop 80. This fine organization of young people is still very active and has produced numerous Eagle Scouts. The scouts contribute to maintaining our Post grounds.

In 1940 the Post moved into its own building at 1035 Burlington Ave. and in 1945 purchased approximately forty five acres on Ogden Ave. in the vicinity of Saratoga Ave. The Post deeded five acres to the Board of Education in 1957 with the provision that the land could only be used for an athletic field, or similar use. This area is now the ball field north of the Post. At about that time the area of Saratoga Ave. from Odgen Ave. to 41st Street was dedicated to the village for public use (it should be noted that the Post retained ownership of Saratoga Ave. from 41st Street to the north end of the Post's property).

Much of the originally purchased land was gradually sold off, with some going to the village for Doerhoefer Park. The Post retained approximately ten acres, to include Memorial Park located to the south of the existing building. Memorial Park includes the Obelisk, originally installed in May, 1976, which faces our front door. The Obelisk contains numerous members and friends names engraved on its sides. Recently, Post 80 acquired, refurbished and dedicated two howitzers adjacent to the Obelisk.

Memorial Park contains many trees that have been purchased and dedicated through the donation of members and families. These trees are designated with bronze markers facing the Obelisk that denote the name of the person being remembered, the war in which they were active and the species of tree.

Post 80 has had members representing all the wars and branches since the organization of the American Legion in 1919. All of the veterans who are members of the Legion have been honorably discharged from their respective services and their war achievements are well documented in history.

Our Facilities

Since the initial meetings held in the Masonic rooms at GAR hall, Post 80 met in many facilities taking us from downtown Downers Grove to 4000 Saratoga Ave. over the years.

The membership outgrew the Masonic rooms and moved to the Dicke building club rooms, where social gatherings for the young men in town were held. However, the membership waned by 1922 and the Post returned to the Masonic rooms.

In 1936 the Post moved to the Avery Cooney Building on Grove Street and stayed there for three years before moving to the third floor of the Heart building for six months. In 1940 the Post moved into its own building at 1035 Burlington Ave.

In October of 1960 the Post began construction of its present building, which was dedicated on September 23, 1961. It should be noted that the Auxiliary had a large part in helping with the original funding.