Yesterday, at a press conference held by the Milwaukee Fire Department, an employee of the Missouri Synod showed me a series of photos of the interior devastation at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1046 N. 9th St., after Tuesday's fire.
Last night, another employee shared similarly distressing images. But we agreed to hold them until the congregation could take a look before they went public.
This morning, the church, built in 1878, shared this striking image on its Facebook page:
In it, you can see that the altar survived – which we learned yesterday when the paintings in it were carried out by cleanup crews – as well as some of the stained glass in the apse.
"This is a powerful reminder of who really is in charge," a church employee told me.
Much of the altar at Trinity is salvageable. The paintings from it have survived! pic.twitter.com/x1pWdvpPEv — Bobby Tanzilo (@BobbyOnMKEcom) May 16, 2018
What we didn't realize is that – as you can see in the images below, taken yesterday – the pulpit and its staircase and canopy have largely survived, and the central chandelier that adorned the sanctuary still hangs in place. Damaged, but there.
According to a source at the church, access to the interior has now been sealed until structural engineers can assess the stability of the structure, and that everything that can be saved and easily moved (such as the altar paintings and crucifix) has now been removed from the building.
Rev. Jonah P. Burakowski, mission executive for the Missouri Synod, said that structural engineers were on the scene today.
"Structure specialists are in the process of conducting a survey today," he told OnMilwaukee. "They are not sure how long this process will take and so we wait for their report. Until we receive their report, the city engineers report, a civil engineer’s report and the fire inspectors report, we are unable to offer any speculation or determination on the physical structure."
Congregation leadership is expected to meet today to make what Burakowski called, "a series of decisions including where they will worship on Sunday."
At an evening press conference on Thursday, congregation representatives said that worship services this Sunday will be held at MATC, across the street from the church.
The city issued a condemnation order, but not a raze order, on the building, according to Burakowski. A condemnation order does not automatically lead to demolition.
Also, yesterday, the church posted this information on Facebook after an unaffiliated individual launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds in the name of the church.
Stay tuned for more updates as new information emerges.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.