African American News and Genealogy

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Friday, May 06, 2005

Laurel Grove Rebuilds, Remembers

Members of Laurel Grove Baptist plan to rebuild the church, which was destroyed by fire in December. By Glenn McCarty May 4, 2005 Driving through the fields and farms of 1970s-era Franconia, Dolores Comer Frye instantly felt a bond to the North Carolina town where she was raised. "I saw some ladies out in this field, cutting hay and putting it in the wagon. That really interested me," said Frye, who also was intrigued by the small, white church building on Beulah Street which was Laurel Grove Baptist Church. Following her children's lead, Frye joined Laurel Grove in 1976 and found a community of people from many other parts of the country, all looking for the same kind of church atmosphere."A lot of us have a history of small churches in our hometowns, and that is one of the things that attracts a lot of people to that particular location," said Frye. "It's always been a small, family-oriented church."Over a century after the church was built by freed slaves on a 1-acre patch of land, tragedy struck the Laurel Grove congregation on Dec. 20, 2004. Just a few hours after the annual Christmas production, fire swept through the building and gutted it. Fire investigators determined the two-alarm blaze was caused by an electrical malfunction in the attic. After 120 years of history, the Laurel Grove building was gone in a matter of minutes. "Everybody left on an up note, and then to go back to that. It was just devastating. I was wondering the effect it would have on other members. I just had to be there. It was just like your house was on fire," said Frye, who many years ago had used her love of history to begin compiling the history of Laurel Grove. Luckily, she said, she had taken all those books home a few weeks before the fire. Full Story:


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