Local History | St. James destroyed | Back
A lightly edited transcription of a page 1 article in the 16 Oct 1919 Simcoe Reformer newspaper.

St. James Methodist Church Destroyed by Fire

A fire of mysterious origin broke out about 8 o'clock Saturday evening in St. James' Methodist Church, and in a short time had destroyed the whole interior of the church proper, only the walls and some of the charred portions of the roof being left.

The fire wall and the efforts of the fire brigade, however, prevented the spread of the flames to the Sunday School annex, which is the finest and best equipped in the district.

The fact that the evening was windless and calm contributed much to the comparatively speedy control of the fire, and at no time were the surrounding buildings in danger.

The blaze started in the organ, and when the clouds of smoke attracted attention, it had gained considerable headway, and shortly afterwards several windows fell out with a burst of flame. 

The cause is absolutely a mystery. The switch box was locked, and only one light in the side entrance of the building has a separate circuit, and this was not close to the starting place. There was no fire in the gas furnaces, and at 6.15 the caretaker left the place with everything apparently all right The officials of the church are at a loss to account for the origin.

Considerable expense had been put on the building of recent years. The fine organ had been much improved, the choir loft refitted, decorating done, and only four weeks ago a beautiful memorial window to the members of the church who fell in the Great War was unveiled.

The church property, valued at nearly $60,000, was only partially insured. The previous church was destroyed by fire in 1896.

An insurance adjuster was in town Tuesday and estimated the loss on the church building at $24,000, the insurance being only $20,000. The organ, which cost about $3,500 when installed, would cost about $8,000 to replace today. Insurance allowed, $2,000.

The Board of Management intends to re-build as soon as possible. The services for the time being will be held in the school room.


Copyright 2015-2017 John Cardiff