Historic Statesville Church Destroyed by Fire
STATESVILLE, NC – “That was one of the historical things for Statesville. It’s been here 101 years,” said Crystal Harris, describing the destruction of the old Western Avenue Baptist Church.
A century of history came crumbling down early Monday morning.
“It’s sad, it’s been around for a while,” said Mary Jane Draper. She lives around the corner from the church.
The old Western Avenue Baptist Church was a staple of Southside Statesville. Former Church members commented online about its stained glass windows and beautiful sanctuary.
“It’s going to be a loss, I’ll tell you, for a lot of people,” said Kenneth Chapman.
Chapman owns the pharmacy down the block from the church. He saw the building this morning as firefighters tried to fight back flames.
“This church was blazing. I mean it was about 20 foot flames coming off the roof and stuff,” said Chapman.
Dozens of people came by to get a picture of the old church that was still smoldering hours after the fire started.
“It’s not like churches are built today. It was really gorgeous,” said Harris.
The building had been vacant for about 15 years but was recently revived. A Christian ministry was using the building for youth outreach.
“They want to try and get it back active,” said Spencer Lee, the Statesville Fire Chief, “it’s an architectural piece for the city.”
Lee says they haven’t determined what caused the fire. He says federal agents with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms are helping with the investigation.
“It’s a tragedy to lose this,” said Lee.
“Maybe they’ll rebuild it, but it won’t be the same.,” said Harris.