ST. LOUIS – A landmark in Soulard, the historic Church of God, is now a total loss after a fire Tuesday night gutted the building.
The damage cuts deep for residents and the artist community currently using it as a workspace.
“I was married here; majority of my siblings were married here,” said Ledeana Stahl, a former churchgoer. “It’s the memories; this morning I felt like I lost a family member.”
After centuries, the landscape of Soulard is forever changed. Just before 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, a fire ripped through the Church of God, destroying everything in its path.
“It’s devastating, it’s heartbreaking, pulling up today was the hardest thing,” said Andi Moravec, operations manager for Lucas Schoolhouse. “The skyline of the Soulard neighborhood has changed, but hopefully not for good.”
Over the last three years, the church has been used as an event and art space under the Lucas Schoolhouse. The church is where some works in progress were stored.
“I’ve invested the better part of my adult life into making this dream a reality,” said Abraham Mohler, a sculptor. “So to see it go up in flames like that, I’m gutted, I can’t even think about tomorrow.”
It’s unknown how many pieces were damaged considering most were durable materials like stone and bronze, but the building is a total loss.
Thankfully, firefighters were able to stop it from spreading to the neighboring schoolhouse, now the art gallery. Both buildings were unoccupied at the time of the fire. No one was hurt.
“The architecture is phenomenal. It’s this historical building that means so much to the community to take pride in, to walk by,” said Angela Vories, a local community member.
A GoFundme is set up to help rebuild what Schoolhouse employees cannot.
The cause of the fire is unknown, but they were in the process of refurbishing the space.
“If you have linseed oil, and it’s an oily rag and the rags are together, over the course of time, they can create a phenomenon that we call spontaneous combustion, and that can create a fire,” said Capt. Garon Mosby for the St. Louis Fire Department. “I’m not saying this is what specifically happened here, but that’s another reason we want investigators to come back for a closer look.”
An investigation is underway, but the fire is not suspicious.