Juvenile arrested in connection to historic school house fire in Caroline Co.

DENTON, Md. – A small community in Caroline County was shaken to its core after finding out a teenager may be the one responsible for lighting fire to a historic building in Denton.

Maryland Deputy Fire Marshals announced on Thursday that they arrested a 17-year-old in connection to the arson that happened Tuesday night.

Just after 10 p.m. Tuesday, the Denton Volunteer Fire Department responded to the 400 block of Lincoln Street after a passerby reported a fire at a historic school house owned by the Prince Hall Grand Lodge Masons. Fire damage to the structure was estimated at a total of $105,000.

It was an attempt to burn down a historic school building, which could have erased more than a century’s worth of history. But the masons who meet here tell me they won’t let that happen.

“It is our duty to put this building back,” says Derick Brummell, with Olive Branch Lodge #93.

The room school house, now at the center of an arson investigation, is the Prince Hall Grand Lodge #93. The masons met here every other week until this Tuesday, when someone set it on fire causing damage estimated at $105,000.

“I approached the Fire Marshall and he said, ‘you’re building is pretty much destroyed’. And it hit me hard,” says Brummell.

“Hearing it, I was a little surprised that something like this was happening because we’ve been here all these years and it’s been very pleasant,” says William H. Ricketts, with Olive Branch Lodge #93.

But this isn’t just any mason’s lodge. The damage runs deeper than some might expect. It’s a branch of the world’s oldest mason group of African origin with a pretty impressive past.

“History back to Frederick Douglass and a few others,” says Ricketts. “There have been several prominent individuals involved in the history of this building. We’d hate to see it not operate.”

The ashes inside reveal just how much physical history was lost. And while the damage has been done, the masons are not letting this setback slow them down. They’re already looking ahead with plans to rebuild.

“We’re looking forward to better things ahead,” says Ricketts. “We’re all in it together.”

Fortunately, the members tell 47 ABC that the insurance should cover most of the repair costs and they’re looking to invite the community out once it’s complete.

But there was miracle in the midst of this tragedy. The members tell 47 ABC their charter and bible were not damaged during the fire

If you’d like to help them rebuild, you can contact their Secretary at 410-924-6183.

The teen was charged with arson second degree, burglary second degree, malicious burning first degree, and malicious destruction of property after he reportedly confessed to the incident. He was later released to his grandmother without incident.

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