Fire at Brunswick church won’t interrupt services

By Beth Brogan, Times Record
Posted June 07, 2011, at 9:48 p.m.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — Plywood sheets are nailed over holes where stained-glass windows once lined the walls of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick, and a blue plastic tarp covers the ruined rear roof consumed by a devastating fire early Monday morning.

But Sunday services will go on, just across Middle Street at Curtis Memorial Library, church representatives announced Monday afternoon.

The morning after a three-alarm fire drew 60 firefighters to the blaze, yellow police tape and a caution sign announce the 1885 building is off-limits.

Investigators from the Maine State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Brunswick Police and Fire departments were on the scene while the fire continued, and later on Monday officially determined that the fire was sparked by electrical wiring, according to Deputy Chief Donald Koslosky of the Brunswick Fire Department.

The fire ignited from wires between the basement and a first-floor crawl space, Koslosky said.

The building was unoccupied at the time.

Early Tuesday morning, Andrea Swanson of Lisbon walked beneath the budding trees on Pleasant Street, sipping coffee and peering up at the rainbow flag — a symbol of the Unitarian Universalist Church — still hanging from the front of the building.

For less than a year, Swanson — sometimes with her son — has driven from Lisbon each Sunday to attend services at the Brunswick church. She said she was grateful to find “such an awesome place so open to everything and everyone.”

Swanson heard about the fire on Monday and rode by on her bicycle, but she said, “I couldn’t bring myself to stop.”

Today she grieves, along with many others, for the loss of “so much history.”

But firefighters were able to save a grand piano, several large stained-glass windows and a number of other items, including a Longfellow Bible, kept at the pulpit in a glass case.

The Bible is of particular importance to the church because it contains the signature of the famous 19th century poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and an inscription to the church.

Longfellow was a member of a church that was the predecessor to Brunswick’s Unitarian Universalist Church, the Rev. Sylvia Stocker said Monday. Koslosky said the Bible was retrieved undamaged from the fire.

In a statement Tuesday, church representatives thanked those who sent “many kind messages of support and offers of help.”

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick will hold its Sunday service at 9:15 a.m. in the Morrell Room at Curtis Memorial Library.

This week, the church will host its annual Flower Celebration. All are invited to attend and to bring a cut flower or flowers to add to a bouquet. Everyone will go home with a flower at the end of the service, according to an announcement. The Rev. Mary Higgins, district executive, will attend the service. Child care will be available for very young children.

For information, call 729-8515 or visit www.uubrunswick.org.

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http://bangordailynews.com/2011/06/07/news/fire-at-brunswick-church-won%e2%80%99t-interrupt-services/ printed on December 28, 2014