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Arts & Culture

Not All Was Lost After Historic W.Va. Church Collapse

Last known image of the historic Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Bramwell taken Mon., Nov. 15, 2021 just two days before it collapsed. The church was built in 1893 and was 128 years old.

A historic 128-year-old church collapsed late Wednesday evening in Mercer County.

Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Bramwell was built in 1893, but had not been used for decades.

The church was donated to the town of Bramwell about 16 years ago, according to Mayor Louise Stoker.

“Our hearts are broken,” Stoker told West Virginia Public Broadcasting on Friday.

The town was hoping to stabilize the structure. In fact, Stoker says, she sent photos of the building to a preservationist contractor just days before it fell on Wednesday evening.

“It’s our history that’s lost,” Stoker said.

But not all is lost. Stoker says a rare organ was donated to the church in honor of Joseph H. Bramwell, the founder of the town in 1894, just one year after it was built.

The instrument was put in dry storage when the building was first given to the town. Many of the first residents of Bramwell were part of the original congregation. Stoker says the group considered themselves to be the “elites” of town.

The town has also cleaned and stored items that were not damaged in the collapse, including stained glass windows that emerged fully intact, and the church bell.

One wall and a chimney also survived the collapse. Stoker says the rest of the structure might have to be torn down.

Historic Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Bramwell before it collapsed late Wednesday early Thursday. The church was built in 1893 and was 128 years old. This wall survived the fall.

“We’ve salvaged some beautiful wooden beams and of course the stained glass windows,” Stoker said. “I hope we can find a wonderful historic-type purpose to reuse what remains.”

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