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Mith242

3 Alarm Fire in Downtown Memphis

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I don't have a lot of details, especially since I'm not from Memphis. But apparently there's a pretty bad fire in downtown Memphis. It sounds like it started at the First United Methodist Church downtown at Second and Poplar Avenue and has now spread to other buildings in the area.

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I'm watching the news. Here's the latest...

The fire at First United Methodist Church started around 3:00am. The roof and steeple collapsed, and the building is gutted although much of the facade remains. The building is located at Second and Poplar.

Sometime around 5:00am, embers from the church started a fire 500 yards south at the Court Annex Building, which is part of the Court Square Center renovation project. Within a few minutes, that building was completely engulfed in intense flames shooting 100-150 feet in the air. The Rhodes-Jennings Building and Lincoln American Tower also caught fire.

As of this writing, the fire at the church is out. The fires at Court Square have died down significantly, although on TV you can still see small fires smoldering in the upper floors of the Lincoln American Tower. Court Square Annex and Rhodes-Jennings would appear to be total losses. Perhaps Lincoln American won't have to be brought down, but I don't know.

Fortunately, there have been no reports of deaths or even injuries.

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Okay...it's become daylight so the picture are better on TV. It looks like the Rhodes-Jennings Building is still standing and may have been spared the worst because it somewhat shielded from the Court Square Annex Building by the Lincoln American. Much of the Annex Building collapsed inward. Also, the nearby Tennessee Club, another significant piece of architecture, appears to be undamaged.

The fire damage to the east face of Lincoln American appears to be heavy. A fire is still burning on the roof of its wings, and several small fires in the upper tower. The fire department cannot reach these upper floors with their hoses and appear to be letting those fires burn themselves out. The construction manager for the renovation project was interviewed earlier on Channel 5, and he said the fireproof steel construction of Lincoln American should keep it structurally sound, and that the fires are mostly limited to the windows.

The Methodist Church will be a very sad loss for Memphis....it was built in 1893 and was still in operation.

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Okay...it's become daylight so the picture are better on TV. It looks like the Rhodes-Jennings Building is still standing and may have been spared the worst because it somewhat shielded from the Court Square Annex Building by the Lincoln American. Much of the Annex Building collapsed inward. Also, the nearby Tennessee Club, another significant piece of architecture, appears to be undamaged.

The fire damage to the east face of Lincoln American appears to be heavy. A fire is still burning on the roof of its wings, and several small fires in the upper tower. The fire department cannot reach these upper floors with their hoses and appear to be letting those fires burn themselves out. The construction manager for the renovation project was interviewed earlier on Channel 5, and he said the fireproof steel construction of Lincoln American should keep it structurally sound, and that the fires are mostly limited to the windows.

The Methodist Church will be a very sad loss for Memphis....it was built in 1893 and was still in operation.

I can see the smoke damage to Lincoln American from my office window. Word on the street is that the Lowenstein also had damage. I loved the First Methodist building. The thing that gets me is that these buildings are three blocks apart. I could just cry. :cry:

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Lincoln American Tower was built in 1924. It is the 9th tallest building in Memphis at 290 ft. A recent poll here on UP placed it the fourth favorite building in the state of Tennessee, second favorite in Memphis. It is an exact 1:3 replica of the Woolworth building in New York.

RhodesLincoln.JPG

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The remains of First Methodist

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More pics of the fire in action and the damage to First Methodist here

EDIT: Add pictures

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Okay: Good news is that there was no loss of life and that Lincoln American Tower is probably fine.

The bad news: We lost at least one architectual gem in the church (hopefully they can rebuild it?) and possibly two (more likely just one) other lesser, but still beautiful gems. Also, this will probably at least put a significant hold on the Court Square project. Geez...Memphis just can't buy a break can it? :(

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Geez...Memphis just can't buy a break can it? :(

Memphis was booming before, and I hardly think this qualifies as an end to that. To the contrary, actually. The First Methodist building will be a severe loss, but there are 4 comparable church buildings within 3 blocks. I do feel badly for the congregation, tho. Sad.

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any pictures of the damage

i hope they can save that tall building.

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Can anyone tell me why the pictures I posted disappeared?

At any rate, there are pictures here

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A sad loss for the city of Memphis but fortunately, nobody was killed in this event.

Also, making national news, there is a Chrlorine gas incident happening over in suburban Raleigh, NC that is making national headlines as well. There is news coverage right now (every half hour) by going to this website.

Again, im sorry for the people of Memphis that are dealing with this.

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......... :( Its a said day in Memphis, but luckly no one was injured or killed. I hope somehow they can rebuild that church.

Heres a shot of the steeple that I took.

2c.jpg

Heres the webpage to some video of the fires and the aftermath. Courtesy of News Channel 5.

Memphis Fire

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Can't you all save the buildings or redevelop the land?

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Can't you all save the buildings or redevelop the land?

Sure...the land's definitely redevelopable. But the historic value of these buildings is irreplacable, First Methodist especially. It's definitely a total loss, as is the Rhodes-Jennings (the 7 story building to the right of the Lincoln American in a post of mine above). The Lincoln American is definitely reparable.

Memphis has excellent old architecture downtown, unmatched by anything in the region. There's no doubt it took a hit today.

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I just feel sick to my stomach seeing those pictures. This was the last church my grandmother attended in Memphis (after being a longtime Memphis resident) before she died, so it has a special place for me and my family. And I'm sorry Rardy, as a Methodist, I REALLY disagree that anything could be considered a comparable church. And I hope no one is suggesting that they develop the site into something other than a Methodist church, I think it's essential to have a presence of each important denomination in the center of the city (esp for social work, which the Methodists are famous for).

Hopefully they can rebuild, but honestly, the old saying will probably ring true "they don't make 'em like they used to." I've seen Methodist rebuild churches across the nation, and they just don't use the same attention to detail with the woodwork and fine stained glass of the older churches. It's just too "expensive". I hate to deflate the optimism, but that's really how it will probably work out (the only glimmer of hope I have is that there was an active congregation that was still attending there, and maybe their love of what was there can keep the rebuilding standards up).

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I just feel sick to my stomach seeing those pictures. This was the last church my grandmother attended in Memphis (after being a longtime Memphis resident) before she died, so it has a special place for me and my family. And I'm sorry Rardy, as a Methodist, I REALLY disagree that anything could be considered a comparable church. And I hope no one is suggesting that they develop the site into something other than a Methodist church, I think it's essential to have a presence of each important denomination in the center of the city (esp for social work, which the Methodists are famous for).

Hopefully they can rebuild, but honestly, the old saying will probably ring true "they don't make 'em like they used to." I've seen Methodist rebuild churches across the nation, and they just don't use the same attention to detail with the woodwork and fine stained glass of the older churches. It's just too "expensive". I hate to deflate the optimism, but that's really how it will probably work out (the only glimmer of hope I have is that there was an active congregation that was still attending there, and maybe their love of what was there can keep the rebuilding standards up).

Well, there's this church in midtown Memphis, I think along Union, which was expanded, and the expansion looked really nice with the stonework (I think it was a white or tan stone). Of course I'm sure it was expensive, but it can be done. It's not the same, but it's beautiful. I don't know what's happened with churches, but you're right, modern, suburbia churches blow architecturally. I don't go to church, and have issues with the human hierarchies in centralized churches, but I can appreciate the spirituality of any beautiful building, and this church, along with most of the churches downtown, is stunning. Man, I wish it could be rebuilt. I have $20 to go to the rebuild. It's not a lot, but I don't make a lot. Yet.

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how did it start?

several fires!?

wow.. thats crazy.

seriously.

sorry for you guys :(

it looked major. of course the news here was like a 10 sec clip..

wish they gave more on what was going on and how it got started..

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Really sad, especially for the church. Shame to see the LAT take that kind of damage.

Any damage to Burch, Porter and Johnson (Old Tennessee Club)? They had a terrble fire themselves many years ago. I was the project architect on their expansion in my previous life.

What a bummer - watching on 10pm news right now. Really sad for the people impacted.

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"comparable church" in architecture and age only, to clarify. Memphis still has nice churches downtown, but it will never be the same without First Methodist.

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This is a horrible event, but glad that absolutely no lives were lost!

Lincoln American is safe enough to be reconstructed, and to think all these buildings were under rennovation at the time. Very sad.

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From today's Commercial Appeal:

http://www.commercialappeal.com/mca/local/...5049542,00.html

These comments are certainly encouraging -

"The Lowenstein building suffered fire and water damage to its roof and top floor, but can probably be saved, said Chooch Pickard, the project's architect, who wrote his master's thesis on the Lowenstein building.

"The 22-story Lincoln American Tower -- a steel structure encased in concrete with a terra cotta facade -- should be fine, Pickard said."

The Lowenstein Building is the orginal name for the Rhodes-Jennings Building. Although it looks severely damaged in the pictures, the truth is that it really didn't look much better before the fire. It had no windows, and its interior was almost entirely gutted already.

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The Lowenstein Building is the orginal name for the Rhodes-Jennings Building. Although it looks severely damaged in the pictures, the truth is that it really didn't look much better before the fire. It had no windows, and its interior was almost entirely gutted already.

Agreed! I had always wondered if it had caught on fire before or something b/c it was basically a shell.

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That's terrible, talk about an intense fire. Could it have been caused by homeless people trying to keep warm?

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That's terrible, talk about an intense fire. Could it have been caused by homeless people trying to keep warm?

Not arson, according to today's Commercial Appeal. I doubt it was someone trying to keep warm simply because it wasn't cold...

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