FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. – In 1945, Staff Sgt. Samuel Countee, an African American Soldier and artist, painted a mural for Fort Leonard Wood's World War II era Black Officers Club located in Building 2101. After 74 years this very building will be memorialized in his honor.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for SSG Samuel A. Countee Hall, also to be referred to as Countee Hall, is scheduled for 10 a.m. Aug. 13 at Building 2101. An open house for the public is slated to take place from 1 to 4 p.m.
Renovation on the historic building began a little over a year ago. During this time the mural was on display at the installation’s John B. Mahaffey Museum Complex, giving the public a rare glimpse at the historic piece.
“I’m thrilled to see the rehabilitation completed and the building memorialized,” said Stephanie Nutt, Directorate of Public Works cultural resource coordinator. “The process was a collaboration of so many different people and organizations, and their hard work has resulted in a stunning facility,”
DPW Environmental Division Chief Charlie Neel said he is excited for everyone to see the finished product, and those who already have are very pleased with the end results.
“I have an overwhelming sense of accomplishment, for Fort Leonard Wood and for the Army,” Neel said. “The building speaks to an important piece of American history and I have had the honor to help preserve it.”
In addition to being the home of what is believed to be the only surviving piece of artwork created during Countee’s military career, the building also features masonry stonework built by German and Italian prisoners of war. The building is one of the last World War II era segregated officers clubs in the Army.
“Fort Leonard Wood is honored to be able to preserve this important piece of the Army’s World War II history,” Nutt said.