Published in the October 30, 2018 edition.


WAKEFIELD — The vacant Hurd School is being considered as a possible temporary location for the Tall Spire Nursery School, which had been renting space in the First Baptist Church until the 150-year old church burned to the ground in a devastating fire last Tuesday.

Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio met with Tall Spire director Kathy Relihan yesterday to discuss what the town could do to help. He briefed the Town Council on that discussion last night.

“I will tell this board that we are looking at the Hurd School,” Maio said. “It’s available.”

The Hurd School was built in 1899 and served as a public elementary school at the corner of Pleasant and Cordis streets for more than a century. It was closed in the early 2000s and the School Committee declared it as excess property in 2005. It was returned to the town and was subsequently rented to Nazareth Academy, a private girls’ school in the Catholic tradition, until that school closed in 2016.

Members of the First Baptist Church community will be meeting tonight to discuss next steps in the wake of the fire that destroyed the church.

While there may be some discussion around rebuilding, church leader Melinda Parry said that the focus is still on more immediate concerns such as securing the site, where the congregation will be meeting to worship and where to store church property that was salvaged from the fire.

Parry noted that while the church’s interim pastor is doing a great job, they are also in the middle of a search for a permanent pastor.

“We are still grieving and taking it one step at a time,” she said, adding the the church community is grateful to the community for all the help that has been offered.

In the week since the fire that destroyed the church the outpouring of offers to help the church and the Tall Spire have been remarkable.

The First Parish Congregational Church offered its chapel to the First Baptist Church for Sunday services.

A “GoFundMe” page for the First Baptist Church was established in the immediate wake of the fire and as of the this morning has raised $18,210 of a $50,000 goal. Another GoFundMe page was established for the Tall Spire Nursery School. That fund has so far raised $15,980 of a $20,000 goal.

The Savings Bank and the Wakefield Co-operative Bank have joined together to collect monetary donations to help support the First Baptist Church. The two banks are also collecting monetary donations and gift cards to purchase supplies and other necessities for the Tall Spire Preschool which was housed in the church.

A joint fund has been established at both banks, and donations can be made at any of The Savings Bank branches in Wakefield, Lynnfield, North Reading, Andover and Methuen, and at the Wakefield Co-operative Bank branches in Wakefield and Lynnfield. The loss of the nearly 150-year-old church was estimated to be at least $1 million.

Checks made payable to the “First Baptist Fire Relief Fund” and/or to the “Tall Spire Preschool Fund” can also be mailed to the funds, c/o either The Savings Bank, 357 Main St., Wakefield, MA 01880 or c/o the Wakefield Co-operative Bank, 342 Main St., Wakefield, MA 01880.

Gift cards may be brought to any of the respective branches of either bank. Suggestions for gift cards include Amazon, Target,
Michaels, and Barnes and Noble to purchase much-needed supplies such as crayons, books, paper, pencils, craft supplies and paper towels.

The Dockside Restaurant in Greenwood has pledged 10 percent of its sales every Monday from Oct. 29 to Nov. 26 to benefit the Tall Spire.