- Associated Press - Friday, July 17, 2015

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) - Authorities have charged a 35-year-old man with starting a fire that destroyed a former Rochester church built a few years after the Civil War.

Rochester police say Thomas Ryhall was arrested Thursday and charged with arson for torching the former Westminster Presbyterian Church early on June 26. Dozens of firefighters battled the blaze for several hours getting it under control. The structure has been torn down.

The church, built in 1870, was home to a Presbyterian congregation until the early 1900s. Afterward, it housed a German-American club for decades. Preservationists were trying to save the property from being torn down and redeveloped.

Police say Ryhall has previous arrests for starting fires. It couldn’t be determined if he has a lawyer.

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