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

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

Church Adaptive Reuse Accommodates both Choir and Worship

February 15, 2017 by: Ben Heimsath

In the 1980’s, the exterior of Christus Church in Hanover was preserved as a significant Neo-Gothic historic landmark. But the interior remained in a deteriorated state. The congregation on its own was unable to afford the major upgrades needed to maintain the soaring 19th Century nave. So local officials stepped in to assist. Solving two problems at once, Hanover leaders arranged to renovate the ... Read More

Worship Space / Adaptive Re-use / Historic Preservation / Church Adaptive Reuse

First Christian Church a Dramatic Small Town Presence

February 06, 2017 by: Ben Heimsath

There may be some connection between the origin of a group and the way they present themselves in later years. That seems a logical explanation for the delightful church near the center of Smithville. More than a century after its design, this building continues to be one of the more dramatic structures in the area. So it was no surprise to learn this congregation met in the local Opera House in ... Read More

Worship Space / Sacred Architecture / Historic Preservation

Mar’s Hill Church and the Original Soul Invaders

February 01, 2017 by: Ben Heimsath

It’s been shocking to learn how little I knew about the incredible diversity of faith communities in and around my old hometown of Fayetteville, Texas. Back then, as I’ve blogged before, I only knew two congregations, and both of them were Catholic. Today, traveling on Hwy 159 East of Fayetteville, I pulled over to see a worship space that I’d never seen before. What I discovered is a landmark ... Read More

Worship Space / Historic Preservation

Historic Church Moved, Restored, and Repurposed

December 26, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

In 1979, the second Webster Presbyterian Church had seen better days. The first church building only lasted four years and was detroyed by a hurrican in 1900. Though this sturdy structure had fared much better, the congregation had grown and constucted a new building in 1960. Now in disrepair, ministry leaders were planning to tear the old church down. The church needed a savior, a dynamic and ... Read More

Adaptive Re-use / Historic Preservation / Preservation / Adaptive Reuse

Fayetteville Brethren Church and Cemetery are Personal Landmarks

December 21, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

This little church stands on a hill at the intersection of Ross Prairie Church Road and Kramr Road about 2 miles south of Fayetteville, Texas. This also happens to be a landmark for me personally since the old Heimsath home was just a bit farther down Kramr Road. And as I noted during my visit to the Mt. Pilgrim Church, I realized I have never been inside this lovely wood-frame church! I was ... Read More

Worship Space / Sacred Architecture / Historic Preservation

Two of Three Historic NYC Churches Landmarked

December 15, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

In past blogs, I’ve noted the impact on several churches in New York City that were part of an unprecedented backlog of cases, some languishing on the docket for more than 50 years! The Landmarks Preservation Commission has been cleaning up the mess by taking up cases in batches. According the New York YIMBY website, nearing the end of the backlog this week, final decisions were handed down for ... Read More

Worship Space / Historic Preservation

Black’s Memorial Baptist - A Progression of Upgrades?

December 14, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

Black’s Memorial Missionary Baptist Church stands on a corner lot on a modest residential street in the St. John’s neighborhood in North East Austin. Noting the shape of the front facade and the stone exterior, it is easy to speculate about what may have been a progression of vernacular upgrades. This African American church ministering to working families may not have used established church ... Read More

Worship Space / Austin / Historic Preservation

Bethel UMC Tallahassee Surviving For Over 180 Years

December 13, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

What can you say about a church approaching its second century with a history of keeping pastors an average of less than three years? Or one that built the exterior of its structure and then waited 40 years to finish out the insides? Visiting the Bethel United Methodist Church in Tallahassee, Floriday, I’d say a pretty determined community has been keeping this place going for generations. Even ... Read More

Worship Space / Historic Preservation