The church that is home to Milwaukee’s oldest Lutheran congregation is burning this afternoon, and the images arriving from the scene don’t look good.
Milwaukee Fire Department responded to a three-alarm blaze at Trinity Evangelical Church, 1046 N. 9th St., at Highland, before 4 p.m. today, and within minutes a fourth alarm was sounded. There was no initial word on injuries.
The fire was reportedly under control as this story posted at 5:25 p.m., however there were still nearly 100 firefighters, including the Structural Collapse Support Unit, on site.
According to WITI-TV, the blaze started on the south side of the church, where construction work was reportedly underway. Soon, the roof was gushing smoke and flames appeared. Within minutes, photographs show, the entire roof was engulfed in flames and had begun to collapse.
Once the roof did collapse, according to one onlooker, more and more water was poured on the flames, which, according to that FOX 6 report, caused the shorter steeple on the south of the cream city brick facade to collapse. Fortunately, the brick tower supporting the steeple appears to have survived.
The church was built in 1878 to plans by Frederick Velguth, and the stunning Victorian Gothic church is listed on national, state and local historical registers.
I visited a few years ago and wrote this look at its history.
Milwaukee Brewing Co. founder and CEO Jim McCabe was nearby, at the brewery his company is currently building across the street from the church, and he shared these photos, noting that the clock on the north steeple continued to keep time during the blaze.
While reports have said, unsurprisingly, that the damage to the building is profound, I hope the congregation can rebuild this historic structure that is a Milwaukee landmark.
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.