Fire destroys historic St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Far South suburbs

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BEECHER, Ill. – A famed church in the Far South suburbs went up in flames Sunday afternoon. 

Around 2 p.m., nearly a dozen fire departments responded to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Beecher following reports of a massive blaze. Fire crews eventually extinguished the fire but the historic church was heavily damaged.

Officials told WGN the fire may have started in the steeple. 

The church was hosting its annual Octoberfest. 

Todd Maehl told WGN News he was driving into town when he detoured down Church Street and noticed flames.

“It was just an awful sight to see,” he said.

Beecher resident Zachery Wehling said he lives down the road.

“I’ve seen it many times. My grandparents are buried there,” he said. “It’s really sad seeing the church like this.”

The Lutheran Church has deep roots in the Beecher community. St. Paul’s is more than 150 years old. The church also appeared in Tom Hanks’s 2002 film “Road to Perdition.”

“Bunch of people from the community came out to help clean up what we could but there’s a lot more to do,” Wehling added.

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The community now looks at the days ahead, coming together to salvage the remains of the historic church they’re hoping to rebuild.

“There’s other churches in the areas. I know everyone from there will help out and we can just pray to God that we’ll rebuild,” Wehling said.

No one was injured. 

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