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Historic chapel saved, moves along Dobbins runway

9:44 AM, Mar 18, 2013   |    comments
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MARIETTA, Ga. -- After years of fundraising to no avail, and demolition looming just a few months ago, it was more than just an incredible sight to see a massive church moved across the runways at Dobbins Air Reserve Base -- it was emotional.

"I couldn't keep from shedding a tear," said Ann Powers. "It was so sentimental and so beautiful."

The historic Dobbins Chapel was built in the early 1940s, one of hundreds of like it that were shipped to Europe for troops to worship inside during World War II. It returned stateside to hold six decades of weddings, funerals and other services. It came to then-active Dobbins Air Force Base in 1950.

But earlier this year, all that history had an end date in sight. Post 9/11 base improvements called for a road to go through the spot where the church stood. Although the base was in favor of saving the chapel, they weren't allowed to spend federal money to do it.
Retired Col. John Powers thought that was the end of the chapel where he got married, and where his daughter followed suit.

"It was beautiful on the inside. And just to think that all those memories and history would be destroyed in a pile of rubble, it was heartbreaking to me," Powers said.

He and others formed the Dobbins Chapel Foundation to start raising money to save the chapel. But after years of fundraising in a downed economy, there wasn't enough money to move the church.

Col. Tim Tarchick had to make the decision to destroy it, though he knew it wasn't popular. Not even in his own home.

"My wife didn't want me to tear down the chapel, it was not a great subject in my house, so I was hoping they could come up with the money because we had a mission to do," Tarchick said.

Tarchick authorized several delays, but it still wasn't enough. But then an anonymous donor stepped forward to give $100,000 to save the church. It was just what they needed. Powers credited an 11Alive story with spreading the news of their needs, and thanked the base and the contractors for being so patient with the rescue effort.

As the church moved to its new home on the other side of the base Sunday, Powers stressed it wasn't about saving his personal memories.

"It was for the men and women in uniform for the future, and to use it for many years to come," Powers said.

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