Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Winds topple steeple at church on Nebraska Ave. just before pastor's installation

TAMPA — Benjamin Curry isn't due to be installed as the pastor of the Greater New Salem Primitive Baptist Church until Wednesday.

But as the church's de facto leader, Curry felt he should make sure the property on Nebraska Avenue had come through Hurricane Irma safely.

He barely saw any storm damage on the trip from his Brandon home so it was a jolt when he arrived to find that hurricane-force winds had ripped most of the steeple off the top of the church.

"I pulled up and I saw it. I was a little shocked to see it," Curry said. "But hey, we're grateful no one was inside of it."

The storm deposited a roughly 20-foot section of the steeple on the ground just in front of the church entrance. With the roof exposed, it also played havoc with the ceiling above the church's balcony, which now has a clear view through the steeple to the sky above. The pews underneath were littered with soggy ceiling tiles.

A builder who was passing stopped and gave Curry a free damage estimate. The cost of repair could be as much as $40,000, he was told.

The damage earned Curry a Monday morning visit from Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who was touring the city assessing the impact of the storm.

"This is the worst that I've seen," Buckhorn told Curry. "The wind normally goes around those things."

New Salem Primitive was founded in 1905 and held services in a one-room building on Ninth Street, according to a historical marker outside the church. The current church at 1605 Nebraska was built in 1969 and has about 125 members.

Curry, 45, moved here from Cleveland, Ohio, to run the church. He and Deacon Albert Wilson worked with volunteers to begin cleaning up the church Monday morning.

Despite the damage, there are no plans to cancel Wednesday's special service, when Curry will be officially installed as pastor. Sunday services will continue as normal, he said.

"We're going to press our way through it," Curry said. "This will not deter us; we're here to do work."

Contact Christopher O'Donnell at [email protected] Follow @codonnell_times

Winds topple steeple at church on Nebraska Ave. just before pastor's installation 09/11/17 [Last modified: Monday, September 11, 2017 1:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Roosevelt Blvd closed at I-275 after truck hauling crane hits overpass


    ST. PETERSBURG — A truck transporting a construction crane hit the Interstate 275 overpass at Roosevelt Boulevard Tuesday.

  2. One Pasco County student arrested for bringing weapons to school, another for threatening shooting


    Two Pasco County students from different schools were arrested Tuesday, one for having weapons on school grounds and the other for threatening a school shooting.

  3. It's official: Hillsborough high schools move to 8:30 a.m. start time, elementary schools to go earlier


    TAMPA — Hillsborough County high schools school will be in session from 8:30 a.m. to 3:25 p.m. starting in 2018-19, the School Board decided Tuesday in a 6-0 vote.

    The Hillsborough County School Board has decided to end a compressed bus schedule that caused an estimated 12,000 children to get to school late every day. Under the new schedule, high schools will start at 8:30 a.m. instead of 7:30 a.m. Elementary schools will start at 7:40 a.m. and middle schools at 9:25 a.m. [Times files]
  4. NFL players, owners hold 'constructive' talks on issues


    NEW YORK — NFL players and owners met Tuesday to discuss social issues, a session Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross called "constructive" and Colts defensive back Darius Butler termed "positive."

    A coalition of advocacy groups 'take a knee' outside of a hotel where members the quarterly NFL league meetings are being held on Tuesday in New York City.  Owners, players and commissioner Roger Goodell are all expected to attend. The activists spoke of having solidarity with athletes and coaches around the country who have also kneeled in protest of racial injustice, especially in policing.
 [Getty Images]
  5. The topic will be neighborhoods as Kriseman, Baker debate one more time


    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker will face off, possibly for the last time before the Nov. 7 election, in a candidate forum on Wednesday hosted by the influential Council of Neighborhood Associations.

    St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, left, and former Mayor Rick Baker during a September forum. The two will will face off, possibly for the last time before the Nov. 7 election, during  a candidate forum at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Sunshine Center, 330 5th St. N. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]