Cleanup continues at the fire-ravaged former Beaver Lutheran Church, once owned by Davy Jones, and the new owner is promising to rebuild.

The 136-year-old building on Orange Street burned to the ground Oct. 11 while Cathy Whitehead and her roommate, Tom Renino, slept inside.

Renino was awoken by his phone, saw the flames and immediately alerted Whitehead. Both escaped unharmed.

However, the former church she purchased from the estate of Jones, her friend and former member of The Monkees, was destroyed.

Whitehead had been living in the second-floor, three-bedroom apartment for about a year and had begun renovating the first floor to create a Monkee museum and performance venue for fans on an invite-only basis.

 “I still plan to do that,” said Whitehead.

But first she needs to remove the mounds of burned debris from the site. Burned up in the fire were all of her belongings and Monkee memorabilia.

The cleanup is moving slowly as Whitehead deals with whispers about the cause of the fire, which state police fire marshal Kirk Renn said was not suspicious but was unable to determine a cause or origin due to the extent of the damage.

Just two years ago, in October 2014, Whitehead lost her New Jersey home of 20 years to a fire that destroyed several other row homes. Newspaper reports quoted neighbors complaining that her hoarding caused the fire, but officials there did not link her to the blaze.

Whitehead denies being involved in either fire.

“I didn’t burn this church down,” she said.

She sent out a press release Friday repeating Renn’s findings and adding that the horsehair insulation used to build the church in 1880 likely caused the fire to spread rapidly.

Renn said he could not comment on whether the type of insulation used could have made the flames spread quicker.

The former church had been condemned when it was purchased by Jones in the late 1990s. He spent years renovating the space with an eye on converting it into a museum and performance venue, but died of a heart attack in 2012 before completing the work. 

Whitehead is not giving up. She plans to build a ranch-style home on the site and set aside a section of the home into a stage and area to display Monkee memorabilia that fans are reaching out to give her.

 “It won’t be as big as the church, but it will be on the church’s footprint,” she said. 

Email comments to mmoore@dailyitem.com. Follow Marcia on Twitter @marciamoore4.

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