Feds May Demolish Historic Manchester Church Built to Commemorate Airship Crash Victims

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By Acroterion - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47855388

LAKEHURST, NJ – The federal government has had enough of it. It is seeking to unload the historic Cathedral of the Air, a church built by members of the Toms River American Legion Post 129 in conjunction with the U.S. Navy in 1932.

Located just south of the Joint Base, the Cathedral of the Air is one of the more elegant and astonishing churches in Ocean County. Services are no longer held at the cathedral, but it is used often for weddings, marriages and funerals by residents.

Manchester Mayor Robert Hudak is asking the Department of Defense to reconsider its decision to offload the historic chapel.

“I am writing you today out of concern over the status of the Cathedral of the Air located within Manchester Township which shares a border with Joint Base McGuire/Dix/Lakehurst,” Hudak said. “It has come to my attention that the Cathedral of Air is in danger of being sold or leased by the Joint Base with the potential to be torn down for commercial purposes. Manchester is home to thousands of military veterans and active JB military personnel as well as many residents who frequently admire the beauty of the architecture and art displayed by the site in our town.”

The Cathedral of Air was a place of worship built in 1932 by the American Legion Post 129 of Toms River for the military personnel at Lakehurst Naval Air Base and to commemorate the history of the Hindenburg. In 1943, the Cathedral was updated to memorialize the memory of The Four World War II Chaplains and their historic and selfless acts on the SS Dorchester.

Each Chaplain has his own stained glass window in the Cathedral. There are also memorials to the soldiers who lost their lives in the tragic crashes of the USS Akron and USS Shenandoah airships, two military dirigibles that had been based at Lakehurst Naval Air station.

“We are hoping with your support that the Cathedral can remain intact and be potentially considered for the status of a protected historical site that our community can continue to appreciate for generations to come,” Hudak said in his letter to the Department of Defense.