Arsonist burns historic Haynesville church

A historic 100-year-old Methodist church and two homes were destroyed by fire in Haynesville in Claiborne Parish early Monday morning, apparently at the hands of an arsonist.

The Haynesville Volunteer Fire Department reported the structures burned in the early morning blazes were vacant buildings.

“The only thing standing now are the brick walls,” Mark Furlow of Haynesville Fire said of the old Methodist church built in 1922. “It’s sickening.”

One of the walls of the historic church fell onto a nearby street, knocking down utility poles and cutting power to parts of Haynesville.

The first fire was reported at a vacant home in the 600 block of McDonald Street. Firefighters found it had begun to damage a neighboring home with a family inside. No one was injured.

Furlow also reported extensive damage to a mobile home on Zion Street.

The church building was originally a Methodist Protestant church, a sect that broke away from the Methodist Episcopal church in the 1800s but later became the forerunner of the United Methodist church. A few Methodist Protestant churches remain in the U.S., but the Haynesville location had closed, and the building had been used by other denominations before becoming vacant some years ago.

The church was still valued for its magnificent stained glass windows. 

“There were so many beautiful windows before,” said Haynesville Mayor Beverlee Killgore. “Even though the church was abandoned, it still had all the old pews and everything in there before the fire.”

Lorenzo D. Henderson, 28, of Haynesville, was booked into the Claiborne Parish Detention Center for aggravated arson, simple arson, criminal trespass, burglary, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The aggravated arson charge is due to two of the three fires threatening occupied homes nearby.