Historic Church Burned But Congregation’s Spirit is Unquenchable

December 07, 2020 by: Ben Heimsath

This weekend, a fire in an empty apartment building spread to the Middle Collegiate Church next door and gutted the historic sanctuary. Firefighters took eight hours to squelch the flames. The damage is still being assessed, though the historic building is severely damaged. Originally built in 1892, it is clear already the interior nave and the original Tiffany stained glass are completely lost. ... Read More

Sacred Architecture / Historic Preservation / New York City / Church Architecture

Church Sketching Along the Tour de France - Virtually

October 12, 2020 by: Ben Heimsath

A few years ago, my wife and I stumbled upon a live broadcast of the Tour de France and have become fans. We only know a little about competitive bicycling but we’ve been captivated by gorgeous images of the French countryside, villages, and towns. We hope to visit some of the amazing places we’ve seen along the Tour. Covid has kept us at home this year and I've written about sketching and ... Read More

Sacred Architecture / Church Architecture

Commission’s Carrots and Sticks Preserve One Landmark, Can’t Save Another

May 28, 2020 by: Ben Heimsath

The Austin Monitor’s recent articles about the Historic Landmark Commission meetings illustrate both the effectiveness and the limits of the current tools available to preserve Austin’s historic structures. An unauthorized and non-historic change to the Scarborough Building was corrected once the Commission threatened to remove its tax abatement. Unfortunately for the Beryman Grocery building, ... Read More

Historic Preservation

Surprise Virtual Encounter with New Zealand's Peace Bell

May 05, 2020 by: Ben Heimsath

To fully appreciate the coincidental connections I keep having with the World Peace Bell movement, I should explain how I’ve become a virtual tourist. In 2018, I reconnected with comedian and artist, Chris Bonno, a friend from grade school. When I complimented Chris on the sketches he was posting on-line he challenged me to join him in a daily drawing challenge. I’ve been at it ever since, ... Read More

Tallahassee Airport Memorial to Officer Saunders

December 19, 2018 by: Ben Heimsath

An unlikely memorial seems out of place near the main door of the Tallahassee airport. In this location, a visitor expects a sign with directions or a “Welcome to our City” message from a politician. It is so unexpected, that I passed this memorial dozens of times before I noticed it is actually a touching tribute to a fallen officer. Officer Michael P. Saunders was killed by a hit and run driver ... Read More


Memorial to a Memorial in Downtown Tallahassee

June 14, 2018 by: Ben Heimsath

Visitors today should note a rather unusual plaque just to the left of the hotel’s front door. The memorial indirectly notes the historic Hotel Floridan, was the premier location for legislators and leaders. Tallahassee Magazine shared an unattributed quote: “(W)hat bills weren’t passed at the Capitol were passed at The Floridan.” When the Floridan was in its prime, a family shared a long goodbye ... Read More


Restored Chapel in Clear Lake - Update

June 07, 2018 by: Ben Heimsath

A family trip to Clear Lake Park was a good excuse to revisit the Bay Area Museum. This facility is housed in a repurposed church that was saved from demolition in the late 1970’s. I blogged about this facility in 2016 but had not been able to see the interior. As luck would have it, this time the museum was open! The interior has been restored faithfully with much of the original layout intact. ... Read More

Worship Space / Preservation / Adaptive Reuse / Chapels / Church Adaptive Reuse

A Street Art Classic in Los Feliz - Make Art Not War

May 31, 2018 by: Ben Heimsath

We expect street artists to highlight their newest or cutting edge images to grab our attention. During a recent trip to Los Angeles, however, I was drawn to this street art for the opposite reason. Driving down Hillhust Avenue in Los Feliz, what I saw was instantly familiar and recognizable - a Shepherd Fairy classic, “Make Art, Not War.” Shepard Fairey is one of the artists who have elevated ... Read More

Draylen Mason Tribute in Lovingly Rendered Street Art

May 24, 2018 by: Ben Heimsath

We look the arts to express things we can’t otherwise describe. In recent weeks, the Austin community has experienced feelings of horror, vulnerability, loss, and betrayal associated with the recent bombing event. One Austin street artist has been able to create a remarkable piece that captures our feelings while paying a loving tribute to one of the victims, Draylen Mason. On the side of an ... Read More

Suddenly Sacred / East Austin / Street Art

Church Planning and Transportation Technology

February 01, 2018 by: Ben Heimsath

Modern churches have consistently been planned to accommodate transportation based on the personal car. Church promoters have advised congregations to provide an abundance of parking spaces, as many as one space per two seats in the assembly. This has resulted in most new churches filling their properties with oceans of asphalt. I've blogged before about innovative transportation but things are ... Read More

Transportation / Master Planning / Church Site Development / Church Change