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Fire destroys Thorndike Congregational Church

Posted Dec. 28, 2011, at 9:54 a.m.
Last modified Dec. 28, 2011, at 5:23 p.m.
Thorndike firefighter Scott Cooper checks for what appeared to be smoulderig debris inside the Thorndile Congregational Church on Wednesday Dec. 28, 2011. The church was reported in flames by a passerby during the early morning hours of Wednesday.
Thorndike firefighter Scott Cooper checks for what appeared to be smoulderig debris inside the Thorndile Congregational Church on Wednesday Dec. 28, 2011. The church was reported in flames by a passerby during the early morning hours of Wednesday. Buy Photo
Former Thorndike Congregational Church pastor George Sadlo views the charred remains of the church he served in from 2000 to 2010 on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011.
Former Thorndike Congregational Church pastor George Sadlo views the charred remains of the church he served in from 2000 to 2010 on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011. Buy Photo
The Thorndike Conregational Church stands next to the Thorndike Fire Department. The Church burned early Wednesday monring and was reported by a passerby. Firefighters responded and battled the blaze for several hours. Fire Chief Peter Quimby says the weight of the bell in the tower was a concern for a while.
The Thorndike Conregational Church stands next to the Thorndike Fire Department. The Church burned early Wednesday monring and was reported by a passerby. Firefighters responded and battled the blaze for several hours. Fire Chief Peter Quimby says the weight of the bell in the tower was a concern for a while. Buy Photo
Damaged stained glass in the Thorndike Congregational Church is seen on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011. Bystanders and firemen commented on the loss of the structure as well as the stained glass that adorned the church.
Damaged stained glass in the Thorndike Congregational Church is seen on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011. Bystanders and firemen commented on the loss of the structure as well as the stained glass that adorned the church. Buy Photo

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THORNDIKE, Maine — The Thorndike Congregational Church was destroyed by a fire early Wednesday morning.

“The fire is a tremendous tragedy. [The church] was a landmark for everyone. Everyone knew where it was. And it was a struggling little church,” said Patty Pendergast, who lives across the street from the building on Gordon Hill Road, Route 139.

She said the church had a metal roof and metal siding, so it wasn’t burned to the ground, but it was destroyed. No one was injured.

Thorndike Fire Chief Peter Quimby said the cause of the blaze is unknown, but there is no reason to think the 100-year-old church intentionally was burned. The Maine fire marshal’s office is investigating the cause of the fire.

The fire started around 4 a.m. Wednesday and was extinguished by 11 a.m., Quimby said.

The fire chief lives five driveways down from the old church.

“It’s a landmark and the local congregation is made of people going back many generations in town. A lot of people here are shedding tears,” Quimby said from the fire scene Wednesday. “It’s a great loss for them. I don’t know if they will rebuild it.”

They will.

According to church deaconess Patty Banker, “we are definitely going to rebuild.”

Banker held a meeting at her home Wednesday with former deacons who made the decision.

“It’s the only one we got,” Banker said of the church that serves about 30 people in Thorndike. “It’s important to everybody. It’s been there for 103 years. We want our church back.”

BDN photographer Kevin Bennett contributed to this report.

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