By Pat Pratt
Glen Carbon’s first official church was heavily damaged by a fire Saturday, which is now under investigation by state officials.
Glen Carbon Fire Protection District Chief Jason Whitaker said firefighters received the call about 2:35 p.m. to Shiloh Christian Church at 57 Sunset Avenue. The building was not occupied at the time and no one was injured.
The church saw significant damage from the blaze throughout the building, the chief said. A cause has not been determined and the Office of the State Fire Marshal is investigating. Firefighters from Troy, Maryville, Edwardsville, Collinsville and Mitchell, as well as personnel from Madison County Emergency Management Agency helped fight the fire. The scene was cleared about 6 p.m.
The Glen Carbon Heritage Museum provided information on the history of the church and issued a statement saying it was disheartened to see a historic building in the community damaged.
“We at the Heritage Museum and the Glen Carbon Historical and Museum Commission are disheartened to see such an historic building sustain damage like this,” the statement from the museum reads. “We are hopeful that the building can be restored and utilized by the community for another 127 years to come.”
According to historical documentation cited by the museum, the Shiloh Christian Church building was constructed in 1895 and was the first official church in the Village.
“Reverend WA Swift of the Methodist Episcopal Church South visited Glen Carbon and was upset to see over 13 bars and saloons, but no churches,” the museum stated. “He gave his first sermon in the street in 1894, his second at the school, and before his third, had gathered such a following that he needed a location that could hold more than 100 people.”
Madison Coal Corporation in December of 1895 signed over the deed to the lot where the church now stands. The church saw a remodel in the 1920s. The name Methodist Church of Glen Carbon was taken in 1948 and continued to serve the community until the 1980s. In the 1960s the education wing was added, as were the six stained-glass windows.
With a growing population in the Village, in the 1980s the United Methodist Church of Glen Carbon combined with the New Bethel Fellowship to form a new congregation and build the bigger New Bethel United Methodist Church in Glen Carbon. Shiloh Christian Church purchased the building in 1989 and continues to own it today.