Manhattan's historic St. Sava Church destroyed in shocking post-Easter blaze

St. Sava after the fire. (Boarder143 / Wikimedia Commons)

[UPDATE: Officials now say candles were likely the cause]

Late Sunday night, the landmarked Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava on West 25th Street in Nomad was engulfed in a four-alarm fire, hours after parishioners wrapped up Easter services. The St. Sava Church, where writer Edith Wharton was married, is an English Gothic Revival structure designed by Richard Upjohn and built in 1855.

On Twitter, reactions to the fire were as swift as the blaze itself:

The church, local preservation activist Theodore Grunewald noted, had one of New York City’s largest hammerbeam roofs:

The aftermath shows a burned-out shell, the timber roof reduced to char on the church floor. As locals mourned the destruction of the historic site, some, including city council member Cory Johnson, suspected foul play. Developers have had their eyes on the site’s air rights. WNYC initially reported that the FDNY has deemed the fire suspicious, partially due to the large volume of smoke billowing from the site when firefighters arrived on the scene around 7 P.M., although later reports posit that the fire was caused by an unattended box of candles.

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