Arson suspected as 145-year-old West Virginia church building burns down

Authorities in Beaver, West Virginia are investigating a possible arson after a historic church building was destroyed by fire.

St. Colman’s Catholic Church in Shady Spring, also known as “The Little Catholic Church on the Irish Mountain,” burned down on Sunday, according to the Catholic News Agency.

In a Facebook post, the Beaver Volunteer Fire Department wrote, “Upon arrival we discovered the structure was already on fire and smoldering. At this time, the fire is considered suspicious in nature and is being investigated as arson.

The Beaver VFD also shared photos showing the charred remains of the building. The only part of the structure not destroyed by fire appeared to be the building’s concrete steps.

In a statement emailed to CBN News, the Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston said, “The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is saddened to learn of the devastating fire at the historic St. Colman’s Catholic Church near Shady Spring, WV Fortunately, no one was inside the building when the fire occurred, however, the structure is a total loss The church, which has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since its construction in 1877, was not regularly used.

“The Diocese is truly grateful for the response from so many fire departments in the area, but the small church burned down quickly and nothing can be saved. The cemetery behind the church will continue to be tended,” the statement continued. .

CBN News has also reached out to West Virginia State Police for an update on the arson investigation. We will post this information here as soon as we have a response.

The building of St. Colman’s Catholic Church. (Courtesy of National Register of Historic Places/National Park Service)

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, the original structure of the church building was constructed between 1877 and 1878. It was a hewn log structure, which, according to the National Register’s request, was ” still evident in the hand-hewn sills and joists that rest on the large foundation stones.The log structure was covered in 1928 with a large clapboard siding that was and still is painted white.

The church graveyard at the rear of the building was the main burial place of the Irish Highland community, according to the claim. The church building and cemetery were named a Raleigh County Historic Landmark in 1983.

(Photo credit: Beaver Volunteer Fire Department/Facebook)

The Beaver VFD is asking anyone with information about the fire to contact West Virginia State Police Private D. Daniels at 1-304-256-6700, the arson hotline for the WV State Fire Marshall at 1-800-233-3473 or Crime Stoppers of Raleigh County at 1-304-255-STOP or www.crimestopperswv.com.

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