Saturday, January 28, 2023

Church and Kerwin

Some sad events yesterday!

First, this church, which is located just a few blocks from the school where I work, was gutted by a fire that started late Thursday night. The news accounts say it's destroyed, but as I understand it there were structural engineers there yesterday assessing the strength of the walls, so perhaps the shell of the building can be saved. It's Grade II* listed and more than 170 years old, and its loss is significant.

I stopped by after work to check out the scene and take some photos. I'd never been inside, but Dave had -- the music department faculty at our school considered holding concerts there but ultimately decided our band was too large for the space. The choral music teacher held some rehearsals there, though.

There are benches outside along the street where I used to see people sitting in nice weather. Such a shame. Apparently the investigators are still determining the fire's cause.

Then more bad news -- the death of Lance Kerwin, one of my most significant early-teen celebrity crushes! He was a popular young actor in the late '70s, boyish looking but in fact six years older than me. I vividly remember his show "James at 16," especially a scene when he disrobed in a sleeping bag with a girl. Scandalous! The show only lasted a year or so, and I both identified with and subtly pined for the teenage James. Kerwin went on to star in "Salem's Lot," the Stephen King vampire drama, and I remember reading the whole book one night when I was about 14, and looking at the picture section in the middle, and thinking, "Gosh, he's so cute."

And then his acting career more or less fizzled and he went on to have addiction issues and became an evangelical youth pastor. His more recent photos suggest that his adult life was pretty difficult, but I will always remember him as the sandy-haired James who wanted to be a photographer and made my tween gay heart go pitter-pat.

It's always a shock when your contemporaries die, though as I said, Kerwin was older than me -- technically a Baby Boomer, while I am Generation X. (He says, smugly.) I was similarly surprised when Adam Rich died a few weeks ago. He was even younger -- and more of a little brother figure to most of us in TV land -- but he also had addictions and other problems.

So, yeah, a sad day all around!


Moving with Mitchell said...

The bones of the church are beautiful. I hope it can be raised from the ashes.

Jeanie said...

I was surprised about most of those but especially Adam Rich -- so young. Oh, that church. That just hurts. Such a beautiful building -- you can tell. I hope the structure is all right but even so, it will take a long while to come back and be phenomenally expensive if it does. I love churches with age. New ones look so cold; old ones seem to wrap around a person in comfort.

Boud said...

I wonder what caused the fire. It was on my internet feed, probably because it was a listed building. I wonder if the outside is intact enough to rebuild and if there's any money to do it.

Elle Clancy said...

Think it was so difficult for those young stars. So much thrown at them, and maybe no coping mechanisms, no support. I remember being wildly addicted to Robby Benson, the Bay City Rollers--and Jack Lord. I watched Hawaii Five-O every chance I got.

Ms. Moon said...

It seems like a miracle when any child actor manages to hang on to adulthood with any of their health and happiness. It's just not a natural way for a young kid to live, I guess.

Ellen D. said...

I am glad no one was injured in the blaze. The photos on the BBC site are so fearsome. It is good that the firefighters kept it from spreading to the surrounding homes.

NewRobin13 said...

That is quite a beautiful old church. I hope it can be fully restored.
I hadn't heard of Lance Kerwin until I saw headlines about his death the other day.
Yes, a sad day all around.

Sharon said...

The fire in that church is very sad indeed. It's such a beautiful building. I hope they can save the shell at least. That's a big loss.
I have a very vivid memory of reading Salem's Lot. I was living in a two story townhouse and I was in bed on the second floor reading the book when the wind rattled my bedroom window. I nearly jumped out of my skin. I just knew a vampire had floated up and tapped on my window.

Red said...

Devastating fires are always very sad.

Kelly said...

Fire scares me. It's a beautiful church, even what's left. I hope they are able to restore it to some sort of usefulness again.

Margaret said...

What a terrible shame! I still wonder what will happen with Notre Dame and that fire was a long time ago. It's weird to even think of those childhood actors grown up, much less dead. :(

Peace Thyme said...

My goodness. It must have been a very hot fire for all that damage. Such a beautiful building. I'm sure it holds beautiful memories for a lot of people as well as historical memories.

Andrew said...

The church fire is so awful. It is completely gutted. I can imagine the stain glass windows.

I'm afraid your Lance is not a patch on one of my teen heart throbs, Luke Halpin. Actually more pre teen. The series ended in 1967 but goodness knows when it was seen here.

Thank you Gen X person for not making jokes at the expense of we Boomers. Have I ever mentioned how tough we did it and how easy your lot had it.

37paddington said...

A melancholy post, very suited to my current mood, though I hope not to yours. That burned church is haunting.

sparklingmerlot said...

Such a lovely old church. What happens if it can't be restored (or, as Boud suggested, there is no money for restoration)? Will it be pulled down or left to stand as a sad ruin? If they pull it down what will they build in its place? Some modern monstrosity no doubt.
The gloom is contagious!

Catalyst said...

Though I am not a religious person, I hope that the cause of that fire will not turn out to be arson. Hate has no rightful place in our world.

Elizabeth said...

I'm sorry to hear of both the "death" of such a majestic building by fire and also the teen heartthrob Lance Kerwin! I remember thinking he was so so cute when I was a girl. Be well, Steve!

River said...

What an awful thing to happen to a beautiful church. I hope the outer structure is sound enough that it can be repaired and restored.

Steve Reed said...

Mitchell: I do too. I imagine it would cost a lot to re-roof it and rebuild the interior.

Jeanie: I don't know anything about the size or financial health of the church and its congregation. I suppose that will dictate whether it's rebuilt.

Boud: I wonder if it's insured, or if the C of E self-insures.

Elle: Oh yeah, Robby Benson! I remember him as well. In fact I saw him on stage when I lived in New York, about 20 years ago. I think you're right -- those kids were all thrust into situations they weren't prepared to handle.

Ms Moon: It seems like there are very few who come through unscathed.

Ellen D: Yeah, it looks like it was a huge fire, but the outside of the building (trees, bushes) seems relatively unharmed. I think the stone walls contained it pretty well.

Robin: I can see how people who weren't teenagers in the late '70s would have no memory of Lance Kerwin!

Sharon: Wow! That's a scary memory! It was a very scary book, though the premise seems kind of silly to me now.

Red: And so sudden and out of the blue!

Kelly: I hope so too. I hope the stone walls are strong enough to be left standing.

Margaret: I think they're rebuilding Notre Dame now, if I'm not mistaken. Child actors do seem frozen in time, don't they?

Peace Thyme: Yeah, it must be devastating for people who actually worshipped or grew up there.

Andrew: Oh, I admired Luke Halpin too. He's still around, though last I heard he isn't well. (And he's 75, which is hard to believe.)

37P: I hope it brought a sense of commiseration rather than adding to your burden!

Caro: There are a lot of questions, and I don't know any of the answers! I'm not sure what they'll do. So many of these English churches are just hanging on, with dwindling congregations. If the walls are strong, perhaps the C of E should just sell the building and allow it to be turned into flats.

Catalyst: You never know, but this church seems an unlikely target for a hate crime. If I had to be money I'd say it will prove to be accidental.

Elizabeth: Yeah, see, you and I are close enough in age that we would have been part of that same Lance Kerwin demographic!

River: I hope they can at least save the shell of the building. Whether they bring it back as a church is another question.