This afternoon the St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church at 81 Avenue I in Apalachicola escaped serious damage after an air handler in a small room located in the rear of the church caught fire filling the building with smoke.
The church musician, Kenneth Turner had just entered the building around 8:00pm to pick up some music when he noticed smoke coming from the rear of the church and dialed 911.
Firefighters with the Apalachicola All Volunteer Fire Department had just returned home from responding to a down power line west of town on Oyster Road when they received the call from dispatch and quickly responded. Once on scene Firemen broke a small window to the room where the fire was located to extinguish the blaze.
This marks the third fire the building has suffered and survived, one in 1951 and the other in 1986, both fires caused extensive damage to the church, but after each fire the building was repaired and continued to be use by the congregation.
The church is one of the oldest church's in the city, first organized shortly after the end of the Civil War, where two lots on the corner of Avenue I and 6th Street were purchased by the congregation and a wooden church building was erected. In the early 1890's the wooden church was replaced with another wooden sanctuary. In 1913 work began on building the current church and due to the need to raise funds construction stretched over nine year and was not completed until 1921.
Photos provided Lt. Pam Lewis with the Apalachicola Police Department