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Historical architects inspect fire damage at Auburn church linked to Harriet Tubman

The historic Thompson Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church caught fire on Sunday afternoon around 3 p.m. after a lightning strike hit the church’s steeple.

The church was opened in the late 1800s with the help of Harriet Tubman. She was a member of the church for three decades, and the church was the site of her funeral in 1913.

A national park team of historical architects began inspecting the church on Monday to assess the damage.

Officials are trying to dry the inside of the building, but they worry whether they’ll be able to preserve the original furnishings as the fire and water damage is significant.

“Your initial thoughts are horror,” said Stephen Spaulding, a historical architect who had been at the scene all of Monday. “You can’t replace that historical fabric. What was there when Tubman worshiped here. What was there during her memorial services is what the parks services is most concerned with.”

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