HOUMA, Louisiana — After a 2010 fire destroyed their church, parishioners of St. Matthew's Episcopal in Houma look forward to returning to their former location in the coming weeks.
The Rev. Craig Dalferes, rector at St. Matthew's, tells The Courier (http://bit.ly/UFnf4r) the new school building and parish hall will be completed by the start of the start of the school year in August.
Dalferes also estimated the church will be completed around December as the building's interior will need additional work.
"Once we receive the permit to occupy the school and parish hall, we will likely begin having our worship service in the parish hall until the church is complete," he said. Although no injuries were reported, the fire, which took hours to extinguish, destroyed the building during the early morning hours of Nov. 11, 2010.
The fire began in the church and spread to one wing of the school, which burned through the roof, causing the building's collapse.
Demolition of the church building, a Houma landmark, began on Dec. 22, 2010.
Grace Lutheran Church in Houma then offered its church building to the St. Matthew's congregation for its Sunday services.
St. Matthew's, which was listed on the National Registry of Historical Places, was Terrebonne's second oldest church.
Many residents remember the church for its Gothic revival architecture and stained-glass windows.
The original building, constructed between 1888 and 1890, also caught fire and was reconstructed in 1892 with local cypress trees.
As the completion date of the construction approaches, parishioner Danny Lirette said says many parishioners are ready to return to normalcy.
"Everyone is very excited about the reopening," he said. "There was some anxiety at the beginning of this project as to how it was going to look. But now, everyone is on the same page and is very happy with the 'new old church.'"
Information from: The Courier, http://www.houmatoday.com