Blaze Damages Methodist Church in Poland
Sanctuary Swept by Flames

Firemen estimate loss as high as $150,000

These were the headlines on the front page of the Youngstown Vindicator back on April 2, 1957. For those who lived in Poland Village 50 years ago, this tragic event that occurred on the afternoon of April first was no joke. This fire that consumed the roof of the old Methodist church on North Main Street was taken seriously by the Village. Not only did the fire change the landscape of the Village but it also changed the architecture. From 1957 forward people saw their Village as truly a part of the “Western Reserve” and built accordingly. For those readers who did not witness the fire or may have forgotten some of the details; here is what happened as reported by the local newspaper.

The sanctuary of Poland’s McKinley Memorial Methodist Church, built in 1904 was gutted by fire Monday afternoon but other parts of the church were untouched by the flames.
Poland Fire Chief Ivan Blackman said the blaze was caused by a short circuit in the electric organ. A firewall kept the blaze from spreading into the educational building which was erected in 1950; however water damage there was heavy. The fire spread to the roof, causing it to collapse. Blackman said the fire was brought under control within an hour.
The blaze started minutes after the Rev. Dean Marston, pastor, left the church study for his home at 18 Massachusetts Ave. Although the church was filling with smoke and burning fiercely, Rev. Marston with the aid of Howard Kingston and Eugene McCauley rushed into the burning sanctuary and saved church records, altar furnishing and an organ. Despite the intense heat, only one stained glass window was damaged. Although the ceiling was virtually destroyed, the floor and the pews appear almost untouched by flames. A red carpet outside the sanctuary was not even scorched.
Mrs. Clark Wagner, caretaker, was in the church office with two women when the fire started. They did not realize it was ablaze until Martin Dupey, a member of Poland’s volunteer fire department,

rushed in and ordered them out. Dupey was at his home at 10 Boardman-Poland Road at 3:30 pm when he saw smoke coming over the top of the church. Thinking someone was burning rubbish, he walked over to the church to check. When he saw the roof on fire, he called the fire station. An emergency call was sent to Boardman for assistance. Two Boardman trucks went to the scene with Chief Merle Gifford in charge.

Friends in Deed
Pastors of two other churches helped fight the blaze at Poland Methodist Church Monday afternoon. The Rev. Hugh Gunn, pastor of Poland Presbyterian Church, is a member of the Poland volunteer fire department. The Rev. Benson Bartell of Good Hope Lutheran Church is a member of the Boardman fire department.