East Austin Church Conversion a Sensitive Success

June 24, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

Hiding almost in plain site, a very successful church conversion in East Austin took some work to discover. From the intersection of Pleasant Valley and 12th Street, there’s no way to see this place. And don’t drive east on 12th street too fast or you’ll miss the driveway. But what once was an empty, neglected church as recently as 2012 is now a state of the art recording studio.   The conversion ... Read More

Adaptive Re-use / Austin

Former Church Hosts Fistfight

June 20, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

Of all the uses for former churches I’ve seen, this one is a first. A boxing match was held two years running in the former St. Mary’s Church in the Germantown neighborhood of Pittsburgh.   The Grand Hall at the Priory is actually an expansion of a very successful boutique hotel that began in a converted monastery. After establishing the hotel, the owners purchased the adjacent church to create a ... Read More

Adaptive Re-use

Nineteenth Street Baptist on 16th St - 40 Years and Counting

June 19, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

A church with a storied history, there is much to write about the Nineteenth Street Baptist congregation and its facility in northwest Washington DC. My focus for this article is just on the transition in the mid 1970’s when the church moved to its current 16th Street address. The facility was the former home of the Jewish congregation, B’nai Israel. Touring the church more than 40 years later, ... Read More

Worship Space / Adaptive Re-use / Historic Preservation

Blind Whino Dazzles in the SW District

June 17, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

It once was a church, and the form is still evident. But one look at the vibrant array of colors splashed over the building and it’s clear this is something completely different. Blind Whino’s website explains the name and the aim: “The term [Blind] pig or blind tiger, is an extended name for the term Speakeasy. (A place where) people of all kinds, black or white, would gather together and even ... Read More

Adaptive Re-use / Historic Preservation

DC Central Presbyterian Lives on as Charter School

June 16, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

There are hints that point to the history. The classical building on 14th and Irving Street NW has the look of a stately public building, most likely a church. This church, in fact, boasted a US President as a member one hundred years ago. But that didn’t save it and now a cornerstone offers a clue to the past: "Central Presbyterian Church, Organized May 1868, Rebuilt 1913" With some research on ... Read More

Adaptive Re-use / Historic Preservation

Adas Israel is Transforming Inside

June 15, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

From the outside, Adas Israel, the largest conservative Jewish congregation in the Washington DC area presents a 1950’s exterior to its neighbors in the Cleveland Park district. But inside, things have been changing. The congregation hasn’t promoted the work as a massive interior renovation program, though that’s and important component. In 2008, with the arrival of Senior Rabbi, Gil Steinlauf, ... Read More

Worship Space / Sacred Architecture / Adaptive Re-use

Old St. Ignatius Martyr About to Have a New Life

June 08, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

According to the St. Ignatius Martyr website, the old church was built in 1940 not only to create a worship space for the growing community, but also to provide classroom space for the new school. From the early days of the church, St. Ignatius Martyr has been both a parish and a school for residents of South Austin.  This photo dates from the 1940's and comes from the Austin History Center.   In ... Read More

Adaptive Re-use / Austin

Alice’s Restaurant Church is Now the Guthrie Center

May 17, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

The first time I ever heard of a church being used for something other than worship actually came in a song. As a kid in the 1960’s, the folk song, “Alice’s Restaurant Masacree,” was all over the radio. Thanks to my older sisters, Arlo Guthrie’s album wound up in the family collection and I remember playing the entire song, several times over, sitting mesmerized through the nearly 20 minute ... Read More

Worship Space / Adaptive Re-use

Waco Bowling Alley Converted To Grace Church

April 10, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

For sixty years, this building was a bowling alley, but today was its first day as a church. I’ve blogged about a several churches in converted facilities. Some are more successful than others. Grace Church of Waco seems to be a great fit for this adapted reuse location.   I stopped by in the afternoon at the suggestion of a member of nearby Holy Spirit Episcopal Church, (thanks for the tip!). ... Read More

Church Design & Construction / Adaptive Re-use

Abandoned Church Reclaimed by Street Artist and Skateboarders

April 03, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

I’ve blogged in the past about the reuse of shuttered churches. A new installation in Spain has transformed a long abandoned church building into a skateboarders paradise. Several design websites including Gessato and Colossal note the recent opening of this unique place. Skateboard enthusiasts discovered the crumbling church of Santa Barbara in Llanera originally built in 1912 but left empty for ... Read More

Adaptive Re-use