WILLIAMSTOWN -- American Legion Post 152 has moved from its Latham Street location to a new space on Water Street.
On Wednesday, members explained the move from a lounge and full bar at 117 Latham St. to an office space at 173 Water St., Suite 4 will help the organization do more community outreach.
"Closing the bar room is not closing the Legion," Post Historian Ron James said. "It's a step moving forward in a society where people are more health conscious."
The organization, which had its charter approved in 1922, moved to the Latham Street building when it was built by Williams College in the early 2000s. In September 2012, the organization sold its property to Williams College and signed a lease agreement that allowed it to use the first floor of the building for two years.
Members say a number of reasons motivated the move, including the general public's drinking habits, the costs associated with running a bar, and a shortage of space to hold meetings.
"There was very limited membership activity at the Spring Street lounge," Veterans Services Officer Todd Defreitas said. "If you were to go into that lounge at any time, you might see one or two guys that were veterans during combat time."
In addition, the public has a misconception that Post 152 is solely a bar, Defreitas said, when 90 percent of the organization's activities are community-based.
"We are a top-rated Legion in the state of Massachusetts, and were rated number one for civic activities," he said.
The organization also performs funerals for veterans with full military honors, with services being held in Central and Northern Berkshire County and Southern Vermont, Defreitas said.
James said the organization is very involved in youth activities such as the national American Legion Boys' State program and the Student Trooper Program, as well as raising funds for scholarships.
The organization also helps veterans file claims with the Veterans Benefits Administration eBenefits system.
"It's a great system," Defreitas said. "It's very secure. It's somewhat complicated and some older members are hesitant to jump on board."
The organization plans on providing computers for veterans so they can submit and track their claims online, he said, as well as bring in professionals for training.
"A lot of veterans try to file claims themselves and they get discouraged," Member Logan Maestri said. "They don't know how the system works, and they get sent a mile-long list of stuff you need."
Members said the transition from the old lounge to the new office space went smoothly this week, and looked forward to future events.
"It's a rebirth of the Legion here in Williamstown," Post Commander Michael Kennedy said.
To reach Edward Damon, e-mail