Fire Leaves Historic Church In Ruins In South Chicago Suburb

BEECHER, Ill. (AP) — A weekend fire destroyed a historic church in Chicago's far southern suburbs that had appeared in the 2002 film “Road to Perdition.”

Officials said nearly a dozen fire departments responded to Sunday's fire in the Will County village of Beecher, but by the time the flames were doused St. Paul’s Lutheran Church was in ruins.

No one was injured and the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Flames swept the church Sunday afternoon as members of the congregation were enjoying an Oktoberfest celebration in the parking lot. The building dates to 1865.

“Yeah, it is devastating: the 150 years of the weddings and the funerals and the baptisms and all of that are gone. But the church still stands, the people, we still have our folk and our faith,” said the Rev. Michael Stein.

The closest fire hydrant was approximately one mile (1.6 kilometer) away, prompting an effort to shuttle roughly 91,000 gallons (344,472 liters) of water to the rural location to extinguish the flames, officials said.

The church, which is more than 150 years old, appeared in Tom Hanks’s 2002 film “Road to Perdition,” WGN-TV reported.

“My grandparents are buried there. It’s really sad seeing the church like this," Beecher resident Zachery Wehling told the station.

Stein said it's an opportunity to rebuild.

"It is a dark chapter, and a sad one, and we mourn it and we grieve it ... but we still look to Christ and we find that hope to go on,” he said.