Fire at historic church; two years later congregation going strong

By Marisela Burgos - bio | email

PORTLAND, KY (WAVE) - Two years ago today, a fire ripped through a historic church. Portland Avenue Presbyterian Church was 155 years when it burned to the ground on January 16, 2009.

Members of Portland Avenue Presbyterian Church have been worshipping at a temporary home until their new site is finished. They have been worshipping at Saint Cecilia, waiting for their new home at the Old Kroger building to be completed. Reverend Willa Fae Williams expects the project to be completed by June 2011.

Reverend Williams thanks Good Shepherd Catholic Church and its members for their support. It is being described as a friendship, which blossomed from a tragedy.

"I think this helped keep their church congregation {stay} in track while the building and know, picking up the pieces of the fire," Father John Burke said.

The day of the fire, it was so cold, water froze as it hit the church and the ground, making it nearly impossible for firefighters to save the historic building. "I remember that morning. It was a bitterly cold morning and I was coming home from mass from here and smoke {was} still coming out," Father Burke described.

Since the fire, both congregations have formed a covenant, which is basically a partnership. This is the second year both congregation's have lunch together on the anniversary of the fire, which destroyed Portland Avenue Presbyterian Church.

"You just see the Holy Spirit moving in this place, when you see all these people together," Reverend Deborah Uchtman said.

An hour after the fire at Portland Avenue Presbyterian Church back in January 2009, crews were called to a longtime neighborhood eatery in the Highlands called Café Mimosa. The restaurant reopened blocks away from the old one on Bardstown road.@

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