LDS Church in Cambridge MA Burns Down


CAMBRIDGE — A fire broke out this morning during a meeting at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints outside Harvard Square in Cambridge, sending members spilling out onto the street.

The blaze, which hit three alarms, began at 10:37 a.m. in the church at at 4 Longfellow Park, off Brattle Street, according to Cambridge Fire Department Supervisor Kirk Warner. No injuries have been reported.

According to Cambridge Fire Chief Gerald Reardon, the fire, which was fought with 22 engines, seven ladder companies, and about 80 firefighters, was brought under control sometime after noon. Reardon said the fire started in the attic, but he did not know the cause.

An extra-large crowd of about 300 were in attendence at the time. No one was hurt in the blaze.

More below the fold.More photos of the blaze and crowds here. Pretty darned white crowd here, folks.

Bishop Paul Dredge, said by phone from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Belmont, that the loss of the church would be hard for the members.

“This is very sad for people who have a history with this building,” he said.

The meeting this morning was an unusual event, said Dredge, who is leader of the Arlington-based Ward (the Mormon term for congregation) in Belmont. The members were attending a conference during which leadership from Salt Lake City was broadcasting to churches all over the country. The meeting started a half-hour before the fire broke out.

Rebecca Sansom, 29, of Cambridge, is director of the Family History Center at the church, which she said is a geneological research center not just for the church but for the general public. It is a satellite to the main research center in Salt Lake City, which keeps backups for the information, she said.

“It’s terrible, sad, horrible to watch it burn down like this,” said Sansom. “This has been a centerpiece of LDS in New England for a very long time. It’s been a center of activity for years and years.

The building was dedicated in the early 1950s, according to Dredge, and it currently houses three wards. The first ward consists of single undergraduates from area colleges, and the other two wards are made up of young adult singles, ages 25 to 30.

“We are anxious for young people in our church to find each other, and make marriages,” said Dredge.

All the quicker to make new little members, I bet.

But wasn’t it just yesterday we learned from the ever-wise and all-knowing sage RNC Chair MC Steele that marriage hurts small business?

Steele might want to talk to the Mormons about his theory and the LDS Church’s, um, “anxiousness”…

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