When the Gong
A Fire History of Charleston, Illinois
Return to CFD
Home Page Table of Contents
***Index to other 1950's
Big Church Fire "Below Zero Conditions"
100 YEAR OLD PILGRIM HOLINESS CHURCH BURNS
1951 ENDS WITH A TORTUOUS FIRE
December 16, 2:47 A.M., with temperatures well
below zero, firemen were called to the Pilgrim Holiness Church, 4th
and Monroe Streets. Patrolman Clyde Stine discovered the burning
building while patrolling at five points, several blocks away. He
could see the light of the flames. Firemen battled the blaze in
subzero weather for nearly three hours. They said that most of the
building was ablaze when they arrived and that the fire was beyond
control. No structures near the church were damaged. The Rev. Dwight
Horn, pastor of the church, said Sunday that it would take about
$25,000 to replace the building. He said the loss was only partly
covered by insurance. A newly installed electric organ was destroyed
in the fire, and that the church had just been redecorated. They had
church at 9:00 P.M. Saturday and that everything was alright then.
He said the thermostat on the automatic heating
plant was set at 55 degrees. A janitor of the church was in the
building at 11:00 P.M. and he also reported that
everything seemed to be normal. Firemen said
that the base of the fire was around the heating plant and said that
they believed that the fire was caused by an overheated furnace.
However, definite cause for the fire was not as yet determined.
Firemen manned hose at the church until the ruins were still
smoldering this (Monday) afternoon. The history of the Pilgrim
Holiness congregation went back to 1917, when it was purchased from
the Baptist congregation. The main part of the building was
dedicated by the Baptists in 1858. Several additions were added.
During the cold night, two other alarms were answered: Joe Brannah
and Bernie Cobble residences. Monday morning a call was answered to
Charleston Lumber Yard. Slight damage to all of these was reported.
Fireman Melvin Taylor's feet got severe
frostbite at this fire. He would suffer problems over this for many
years. They wore non-insulated rubber boots in these early years.
The hydrant he hooked up for this fire (5th &
Madison) is now placed in the 408 Madison back yard. It was replaced
several years ago, and Melvin retrieved it from the junk yard.
Fireman Mel Taylor Hooking up to the '28
Boyer pumper in possibly 1951.
Three of the most dangerous fires were in the 1950's, including the
Piggly Wiggly, the Pentecostal Church, and Alexander's Department