One year after tornado, Butler misses its church, cherishes its memory

Posted at 5:41 PM, Dec 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-21 10:47:51-05

BUTLER, Ky. - When the sun came up last Christmas Eve, there was more damage in Pendleton County than anyone expected.

An EF-1 tornadorolled a mobile home and splintered a 150-year-old church.

Both are gone.

A dedicated group of volunteers had spent years restoring the church and neighboring cemetery.

"There's a heritage here that we have to protect and take care of," said Jenny Beetz of the Bethel Cemetery Company. "We need to recognize that there was a church here, it was a beautiful church, a very special spot."

Imagine how they felt when they had to bring the historic church down.

"It was enough to make you want to cry, really," said Charlie Pyles, who lived in a  mobile home across the street.


Strong winds left a mobile home heavily damaged. Photo by John Genovese | WCPO

What stands now is a monument - a bench - and the written history of the church and the push to preserve it.

Pyles' home was destroyed, sending three people to the hospital.

The cemetery survived with no permanent damage. One gravemarker was knocked several feet off its foundation. Several other headstones had to be rebuilt or put back together. Insurance money from the church building paid the cost.

They miss the church, especially now.

"We do miss it because anyone coming up 27 toward Falmouth, we always looked toward this direction and saw this beautiful white church here after it was restored, especially at Christmastime with its red wreath and lighted window," said Beetz.

"It was really a spectacular sight."