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Monday, May 2, 2016

Historic rural church destroyed by fire early Monday (Updated 7:10 p.m. May 1)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Nothing remains of Mt. Carmel Methodist Church but the foundation, the chimney and charred metal and timbers after a fire destroyed the historic church early Monday, May 1.
(Eric Crump/Democrat-News) [Order this photo]
A thunderstorm appears to be the culprit in the loss of a piece of Saline County history early Tuesday, May 1.

Marshall Fire officials cite a lightning strike as the probable cause of a fire that destroyed Mt. Carmel Methodist Church in rural Saline County.

The fire was reported just before 4:30 a.m. Thunderstorms had moved through the area in the hours prior to that.

Mt. Carmel Methodist Church as it appeared in October 2011.
(Eric Crump/Democrat-News)
Marshall Fire Chief John Rieves said the building was fully involved when his crew arrived on scene.

"I could see it before we left town," he said. The church is located six miles north of Marshall about one-quarter mile west of the intersection of state Highway 41 and 290th Road.

The church structure burned completely, making it a total loss, according to the fire department report. The value of the property was listed at $75,000 and contents at $5,000.

Embers continue to smolder after dawn Tuesday, May 1, after an early morning fire destroyed the historic Mt. Carmel Methodist Church.
(Eric Crump/Democrat-News)
The loss may be higher for local historians and preservationists, however. The 1893 church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009 as part of the Mt. Carmel Historic District. The only other contributing structure in the district is the Brown-Dyer home, one-quarter mile east of Highway 41.

The application for the national register listing was prepared by University of Georgia professor emeritus Thomas Dyer, whose family were long-time members of the church and who farmed nearby.

"It is a very sad day," Dyer said in an email message. "The loss of Mt. Carmel has effects on many levels. For nearly a century, the structure not only served as a place of worship; it was also a center of community life. Although officially Methodist, it had an ecumenical spirit and welcomed residents of the area regardless of religious affiliation."

In his application for forming the historic district, Dyer noted that the church's architecture was unusual for its place and time. It was an example of rural gothic architecture, which a 40-foot square tower, vaulted wooden ceilings and stained glass windows.

"The architectural loss is really quite profound," he said. "The structure was visible for miles around and was cared for by members of the Mt. Carmel Cemetery Association, many of whose families had worshipped at the site since the original structure was completed in 1851, and all of whom had a deep affection for the building."

Contact Eric Crump at ecrump@marshallnews.com

Mt. Carmel Historic District:

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OKR - Thanks for the link.

-- Posted by Slater on Thu, May 17, 2012, at 9:40 AM

While heartsick at this terrible loss, I'm so grateful our extended family came together for the wonderful celebration Tom and Anna hosted in honor of the induction. The memories go back decades for me, but that is my favorite.

-- Posted by MaryDyerMarszalek on Thu, May 3, 2012, at 9:15 AM

My heart is Breaking too! One of Saline Counties biggest historians is buried there, Augustus Hamner Edmonds, my father. He loved it there so...

Miss you Dad!

-- Posted by JEdmonds on Wed, May 2, 2012, at 4:41 PM

There is comfort in knowing that the spirit of this lovely church has found a home in all our hearts. It means so much to me to know how others have loved it through the years.

-- Posted by Pamela Dyer Hamilton on Wed, May 2, 2012, at 7:09 AM

A sad day indeed. So much of my family history is tied to Mt. Carmel. My great grandfather was one of the founders. My Mom and Dad were the first couple married in the church according to the Democrat News article about their wedding. David and I were married there, and all 3 of our children were baptized there. My Grandmother and I both played the piano there for services. Many good memories.

-- Posted by Ann Brown McCorkle on Tue, May 1, 2012, at 6:45 PM

Sad for sure, without doubt or question. I hope the congregation is planning on a rebuild. Surely it was insured, I hope so. If such a thing happens I would gladly participate. I loved that building and seeing it in the landscape will be missed.

Let's rebuild!!!

-- Posted by rudy486 on Tue, May 1, 2012, at 5:46 PM

Many relatives buried up there. It's a big part of family history. A sad day. I'm thankful Tom was able to get the National Register designation; not sure if it could have been done once the church was gone.

-- Posted by Bob Kennedy on Tue, May 1, 2012, at 4:18 PM

What a sad ending do a great part of Saline county history. This makes many people sad for the loss of such a beautiful church.

-- Posted by Grand Pass gal on Tue, May 1, 2012, at 4:05 PM

A heartbreaking loss of a beautiful building loaded with memories and love dating back to 1893.

-- Posted by Peter Dyer on Tue, May 1, 2012, at 1:24 PM

How sad to loose such a part of history, my grand-parents are buried there,, it was always such a pleasure to go there and decorate, so peaceful

-- Posted by buttons on Tue, May 1, 2012, at 9:58 AM

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