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Smithsburg residence restored after fire

November 13, 2000|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Smithsburg residence restored after fire



SMITHSBURG - The past few years have been hard for Patsy Hays. She lost rental income that she relied on when a fire destroyed half of her Smithsburg rowhome and her husband of 45 years recently died.

Unable to work because of a disability, Hays, 62, said "I'm struggling."

After hearing of her troubles, members of Hays' parish, St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Smithsburg decided to lend a hand.

"God put us here to help others," said parishioner Larry Miller who is also a contractor.

Led by Miller, about 30 parishioners are rebuilding the burned half of Hays' home so that it can be rented.

The church dubbed the effort the "Lazarus Project," and plan to make the home livable again, said Miller.

Each weekend since the spring, people have been hanging drywall, fixing wiring, removing paneling and doing other tasks to fix the house.

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It's a big project but as long as people are willing to volunteer their time and supplies, they can get it done, said Miller.

The rear kitchen of 52-54 S. Main Street caught on fire while a tenant was cooking with grease about three years ago. The fire spread to the bathroom on the floor above and the house received heavy smoke damage throughout, he said.

Repairs hadn't been made to the home because she didn't have the money, said Hays who has lived there since she was three years old.

She said she was touched when Miller told her church members wanted to fix her house.

The renewed rental income will make difference, "I'll be more comfortable," she said.

The two-story colonial style house that has been in Hays' family for about 200 years, has three bedrooms on each side and at least one bath. There are front and back porches and a well-tended yard with numerous varieties of thriving geraniums and rose bushes.

Inside the rooms are small and the ceilings low, but the house exudes character and is convenient to the downtown.

A personal friend of the Hays family, Miller said he takes pleasure in seeing the project progress.

Miller said he enjoys decorating and plans to add distinctive features including columns, chair rails and crown molding.

Carpeting, a shower stall and lighting and bathroom fixtures are still needed, he said. He estimates the project will be completed by the end of January.

The Rev. Mark Mooney, pastor of St. Paul's, said he was gratified to so many people in the community reaching out to help someone in need.

He said members of his church "saw this as a mission in their own back yard."

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