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Sacred Heart Church



Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Bushwood, Maryland.  A wooden chapel was built near Bushwood Manor House over 100 years before Sacred Heart was established in 1755.  In 1770, Father James Walton, S.J. built a sizeable church.  Many of the Johnsons who lived at Blair's Purchase in Bushwood are buried in this cemetery, including Julius Johnson, and his sons. The building pictured below caught fire and burned in 1946.  The present brick and mortar church was constructed on the original foundation. 

Old Sacred Heart Church Destroyed by Fire



The following account of the fire that destroyed Sacred Heart Church is given by my Dad's Cousin, Bernard Johnson, in the "Chronicles of ST. Mary's", volume 12, No. 12, December 1964.

On Sunday morning, April 16th, about 4:45 a.m a terrifying crash resounded throughout Sacred Heart Church, Bushwood, Maryland.  The sexton, within about 100 yards of the church at that time was all but stunned by the crash and blinded by the flash as a bolt of lightning struck the steeple.  Recovering, he hastened to the Pastor's quarters at the rear of the church.  Both he and the pastor repaired to the church proper but found no trace of smoke or fire.  In half an hour Mr. Burch Gibson, the nearest neighbor ran from his home to tell Fr. Rudtke that sparks and light were coming from the roof of the church near the steeple.  The church phone being by then out of order Fr, Rudtke drove to the home of Mr. Fred McWilliams, whose phone was on another circuit and called the Leonardtown Volunteer Fire Dept.  By that time a small hole had burned through the church roof.

Returning to the church Fr. Rudtke immediately removed the Blessed Sacrament to the school nearby.  With the help of the sexton, Messrs. Harry Green, Burch and Larry Gibson, Paul, Ralph and Ethelbert Russell and Alfred Dyson they packed the Sacred vessels, vestments, alter boys' cassocks and carried them, together with candle-sticks and altar appurtenances, Papal and National flags, liturgical documents and books, a few of the pastor's personal effects and wearing apparel, to the school.  By this time smoke and heat prevented further salvaging.

By the time the L.V.F.D. had the hose lines out the school building was steaming from the intense heat.  The fire-fighters rightly fave all time and effort to the school and the nearby gasoline tanks, preventing explosion and further loss.

At 7 o'clock the venerable and stately church, a land mark for 52 years was a total loss of not less than $40,000.00.

Seeing that the school was safe, Fr. Rudtke, with the help of the Sister who brought an altar stone and alter clothes from the convent nearby, set up an emergency altar and in the Parish Hall held the usual Sunday masses at 7:30 and 9 o'clock.

Courtesy of Bernard Johnson, Bushwood, Maryland.