Sunday, October 08, 2006

Another shell worth saving

Although the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church was completely destroyed in the fires Friday morning, the shell of the building was amazingly intact when I went to see what remained Saturday morning. I think all 4 sides of the building were still standing.

And I was heartened Sunday morning to read:
that though a crew would have to demolish pieces of the church's south wall in order to gain access to the destroyed area, "we're trying to save as much of the stone wall as we can".
I was less heartened when I went by Sunday afternoon and saw that "pieces" meant a substantial portion of that wall.

Still, the west, east, and north walls, the tower (minus the steeple), and some of the south wall appear to be still there, including much of their exterior ornament. Even the destroyed south wall is probably laying in a rubble pile on Poplar, pieces that could be partially restored.

I am not a structural engineer or an architect, but it seems that modern war, earthquakes and fire and even urban renewal in our own city have shown time and time again that the guts of buildings can be blown up/burned up/knocked down, but the exterior can be saved. At the very, very least, we should gently salvage their pieces and make them part of the new building, hoping that the old and new architectural DNA will fuse.

Memphis is not Dresden, but First Church should be Frauenkirche.


Anonymous Margaret said...


We're doing a story on last week's fire on our Web site,, and I'm looking for a couple of jpegs of the fire. Would you mind sharing some of your photos with us? We're a nonprofit, so I'm looking for free images. We would, of course, put a link to your blog in the credit line.

Let me know if that sounds acceptable.


Margaret Foster | Web site editor | Preservation magazine | National Trust for Historic Preservation |

2:45 PM  
Anonymous Margaret said...

Forgot to leave my e-mail:

2:46 PM  

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