The year was 1919 when a group of local veterans gathered just a few blocks from our current location at Straszer’s Ice Cream Parlor located in the old Lyceum Building to relive their experiences from the war. Mr. Ben Feldmann had approached several men asking them about the possibility of forming an American Legion Post in Manchester, Missouri. On December 2, 1919, as a result of Mr. Feldmann’s persistence, American Legion Post 208 was officially formed with a total of 15 members. The first commander of the newly formed Post 208 would be Mr. Ben Feldman.
Sgt. Walter Henry LePere, USMC was the only serviceman from the City of Manchester who did not return from WWI. Sgt. LePere was killed in action on October 9, 1919 at the Battle of Mont Blanc Ridge, and was laid to rest at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial in France. Paying tribute to their friend, the original members determined our Post would take on the name of Sergeant Walter H. LePere.
The City of Manchester has changed over the past 97 years. The Lyceum, the building that housed our humble beginnings had many purposes in its lifetime. Its upper floor was used for dances, for showing movies and occasionally for Post 208 meetings. The lower floor had been used as a hardware store, an ice cream shop and a grocery store. It still stands today and for a long time served as the Manchester City Hall.
Our membership has grown from 15 to nearly 600. But our mission to serve veterans and the members of our community has been time tested and continues to stand strong even today. We could not accomplish this success without the help of our Post Auxiliary that was organized in April 5, 1921, our Sons of the American Legion Squadron, chartered in April 1997, and our newest members of our legion family, the American Legion Riders, Chartered on November 22, 2011.
Our Post is located in the City of Manchester, Missouri west of the City of St. Louis. It is located just south of Manchester Road on Sulphur Spring Road. Manchester Road, called the Rue Bonhomme (street of the good man) by the French, was the wagon train route west from St. Louis. That's because Manchester Road goes between the Missouri and Meramec Rivers meaning no river crossings. The area that Manchester now occupies was used as an overnight stopping place for those wagons since it was one day's travel from The Mississippi River in St. Louis. A sweet water spring (now covered over) which flowed into the Grand Glaize Creek, supplied those wagon travelers and was located just east of the Lyceum Building.
Manchester Road was also sometimes called Market Street because it lead directly to the market in St. Louis City. It eventually became a major thoroughfare after it became a direct route from St. Louis City to the new State Capitol of Jefferson City. In the beginning, as a dirt road, it had to be watered down twice a day to keep the dust down. Later it was oiled because it was cheaper than watering down. Eventually, with the advent of the automobile, it was widened and paved. Because of Manchester Road, many new municipalities grew along the road and the area enjoyed prosperity.
Between 1919 and 1938, Post 208 members continued to meet at different locations. They met in the members' homes, at the Lyceum Building, at Martin Engelmann's home (now Trotter Photo Studios) and at Hellman's Hotel and Saloon (later The Bank of Manchester). The latter building was destroyed on February 1, 2016, to make way for a restaurant. Many of the Post 208 members contributed much to the growth of the Post. One member who stood out was Joe Seibert.
Upon losing Hellman Hall as a Post meeting place in 1930, attention turned to the building of a permanent Post building. Joe Seibert discovered that an old building in Kirkwood was to be torn down. He obtained permission from the owner to salvage all the useable material. Upon receiving approval, Joe along with Post members retrieved and stored the material. Land for the future Post building was acquired in 1933. By 1935 plans for the building were approved and a committee was formed to get bids for construction. Construction began in March of 1938 and on September 13th, 1938, the first Post meeting was held in the new building.
Joe Seibert, was the 10th Post Commander, 1929-1930, the first Mayor [then called Chairman] of the City of Manchester and a driving force in the formation of the Manchester Volunteer Fire Department. At the first Post meeting in September, 1938, a small fire started in the kitchen of the new building. Even though the Post had not purchased a fire tag, the cost of having the fire department put out the fire, nevertheless, the firemen came and put out the fire. Perhaps Chief Joe Seibert had something to do with that. Fire tags were purchased by the next Post meeting.
The Post acquired its first telephone in October of 1940. December of 1941 brought sadness to the Post due to the death of its first Commander, Benjamin Feldman, as well as the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Post 208 survived the war years and in 1945, the first WWII Veteran, Vern Holloway, was elected as the 27th Post Commander [1945-1946]. On July 4, 1944 we have the first mention of Post 208's participation in the Manchester Homecoming celebration. In January 1957, Post 208 buys a bugle for the Post Bugler and in March of 1957, plans were developed to extend the Post building 16 feet to the west.
In May 1996, the long awaited 155mm Howitzer is delivered to the Post. The request for the weapon had been placed 71-years  before. The government moves slow, but it does move. On September 14, 1996, the howitzer was dedicated, and the 100th birthday of Joe Seibert, the lone surviving Charter Member, was celebrated.
A Women's Auxiliary was formed on 1921. The Legion has every reason to be proud of it's Auxiliary. Auxiliary members are always anxious and willing to co-operate in every Legion activity.
A Sons of the American Legion Squadron was chartered in 1997. The Legion has every reason to be proud of it's Sons of Legion unit, which gained statewide recognition because of it's programs of service.
A Legion Riders was formed in 2007 and welcomes members from all affiliated organizations of the American Legion.
MEMORIAL DAY has always been an outstanding occasion in this community. In addition to memorial events throughout the Manchester community, the goal of every Veteran to it's last man is to keep MEMORIAL DAY sacred to the memory of our war dead of all of the wars of the country; and all graves are decorated on this National Holiday.
ARMISTICE DAY, now called VETERANS' DAY, originally marked the end of fighting in World War I. It is an important holiday on the calendar of Legionnaires everywhere and in the hearts of all Veterans.
Scholarships and Community Projects
The American Legion sponsors various scholarships for the further education of our children. We also sponsor and financially assist many worthy community projects and programs initiated by the National American Legion.
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