I can still recall standing at my upstairs bedroom window in 1987 watching as flames consumed the Southside Baptist Church. While I never attended the church, it was an every-day part of my life, as it was located just around the corner from my home. Watching the church burn made me feel helpless.
I was reminded of that tragedy the other day when I ran across the story of the fire that destroyed Centenary United Methodist Church in Cape Girardeau on Feb. 20, 1914.
The Daily Republican, the name of the Missourian before 1918, covered the news with a front-page article. It also gives some historical background.
(Centenary Church, circa 1907)
The church that stands today was constructed at the same site in 1915.
Numerous congregations in the Cape Girardeau area have had to deal with the heartbreak of fire. Here's a partial list of edifices that have been damaged or destroyed by flames.
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Pocohantas, 1910
St. Vincent's Catholic Church, Main and William streets, 1912
St. Edward's Catholic Church, Dutchtown, 1928
A.M.E. Church, Jackson, 1931
Rock Hill Methodist Church, Jackson, 1941
Church of God Mission, 421a Broadway, 1946
West Side Church of God, Bloomfield Road, 1952
Maple Avenue United Methodist Church, South Ellis Street, 1957
Trinity Lutheran Church, Frederick and Themis streets, 1963
Jackson Assembly of God, Jackson, 1971
Third Street United Methodist Church, Third Street, 1977
Centenary, North Ellis Street, 1981
Free Will Baptist Church, 200 Broadway, 1984
Burfordville Baptist Church, Burfordville, 1985
Hobbs Chapel, Highway 177, 1993
In my mind, two of these stand out: Southside Baptist and Hobbs Chapel.
Like Centenary, the congregations of Southside Baptist and Hobbs Chapel rebuilt their houses of worship.