Restoration progress made at Trinity church 1 year after devastating fire: 'It's looking beautiful'

MILWAUKEE -- FOX6 News on Tuesday, May 14 got an update on reconstruction at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church near 9th and Highland, ahead of the one-year anniversary of the four-alarm fire that happened May 15, 2018.

On Tuesday, we learned the trusses for the steel roof would be installed by the end of the week, and so would the metal decking -- helping make the building stronger than ever.

"It's looking beautiful. It's absolutely looking beautiful," said Lydia Beasley.

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church restoration

Lydia Beasley

In awe of the repairs happening to her church, Beasley, a longtime member, was emotional ahead of May 15.

"That was like, our home, so it was really hard to see it like that," Beasley said.

Beasley went to the scene in 2018 to see the damage herself after the fire tore through.

Fire at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Milwaukee

Fire at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Milwaukee

"We were just consoling each other -- like, 'This is unbelievable,'" said Beasley.

The year since the fire proved to be one of faith and perseverance for the congregation.

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church restoration

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church restoration

"Nothing in this life lasts forever, but the Lord, the Lord blessed us with letting enough of the building remain so we can rebuild it," said Reverend Hunter Hoffman.

Historic pipe organ removed from Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church

Though $17 million worth of damage occurred, Reverend Hoffman said the important things were salvaged.

"Everything that was really significant, of importance, we have a pattern or we have something to tell us how to replace what was lost. It's a real blessing so much was saved in it," said Reverend Hoffman.

Reverend Hoffman, who's not only a retired pastor at Trinity, but also a former bricklayer said he was excited about the restoration of the 140-year-old building.

Hunter Hoffman

"We want to restore it to its former glory so future generations can benefit from being in a sanctuary that really gives you the feeling and presence of God," said Reverend Hoffman.

If everything works out, officials said the goal was for the congregation to be back in some part of the building in 2020.

In the meantime, services would continue at Krause Funeral Home.


MFD Chief Mark Rohlfing said the Trinity fire started on the roof -- which was under construction at the time.