Historic Hebron Church Destroyed By Flames - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Historic Hebron Church Destroyed By Flames

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Courtesy Larry Dodd, retired from Salisbury FD Courtesy Larry Dodd, retired from Salisbury FD

HEBRON, Md. - Some devastating news out of Hebron, where a historic landmark is now ashes and rubble, after a massive fire ripped through Saint Paul's Episcopal Church early Wednesday morning.

"A great piece of Anglican history just died," said Rev. Ronald Knapp, priest at Saint Paul's.

Parishioner Russ Franklin looked on at the shell of a building, "beaks my heart."

Traffic on Route 50 backed up in both directions as more than eight fire companies fought for over an hour just to contain the flames that eventually destroyed this landmark, built in 1773.

When he first got the call about the fire, Rev. Knapp says "I hoped that it was just a fire in the roof."

"Anything made of wood and as open as this church is with cathedral ceilings, it allows for fire spread to be very rapid," said Lt. Doug Parker, with the Hebron Volunteer Fire Department.

Father Knapp says this tragedy came at a time when things were starting to look up.  The congregation nearly quadrupled in recent years, and the church had just been renovated.

"We had just put a brand new roof on. Brand new electric conduit throughout the whole church to avoid this kind of thing," says Knapp, "we were very worried about a fire...[scoffs], we have a fire anyway."

It only took a few hours to destroy 243 years of history.  Salvaged relics are all that's left of the physical remains of this church, but members say there still will be life, here on what's affectionately called "Old Spring Hill."

"A church is not a building, it's people who worship together, it's the things that they do," says Knapp, "that didn't die."

While the church structure is gone, the pastor tells 47 ABC, services will continue at another building on the grounds.

Saint Paul's is on the national register for historic places and was one of the oldest wooden structures still in use in Wicomico County.

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