Newsworthy Articles

News and Media Update October 24, 2022

Welcome back! We are back from our brief hiatus with Bricks and Mortals weekly recap of news related to houses of faith and their properties. This week, we look at how houses of worship have been using their buildings beyond worship:

Houses of Worship and Building Reuse

In recovering from the pandemic, faith communities are beginning to think about their place of worship beyond the physical building. Many Jewish congregations have found themselves “shopping” for virtual shul services. The virtual landscape is perfect for those who prefer to worship from the safety of their home, or have accessibility needs that make attending in person difficult. But what happens to the buildings that used to be sites of in-person worship?

Photo by Lana2011 via The Forward

In Montreal, pastors are seeing church buildings as more than a place of worship and have begun transforming these spaces by expanding the use of these buildings to also include community centers, learning centers and spaces for performance. For example, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra recently performed alongside Grammy-award winning vocalist Marvin Winans, for a free show  at Perfecting Church. The program is an initiative of The Detroit Neighborhood Initiative which aims to create a continuous dialogue with communities. 

In the same vein, for the month of October, Open House New York has been providing free tours of over 270 places in New York including several churches such as St. Bartholomew’s Church, Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, and Trinity Church Wall Street. This tour encourages visitors to view church buildings as historic landmarks and architectural masterpieces.

Trinity Church. Photo by Colin Winterbottom via Open House New York

Houses of Worship and Housing

In 2020, Rony Zeidan, the founder and chief creative officer of RO New York purchased a historic Hudson Valley Church for $569,000, and has restored it into a personal refuge for himself and his family. The building is now listing for $2.495M. In the city, the Brooklyn Diocese, has plans to build a 14 story apartment building in East New York. It is currently unknown how many affordable units will be included in the building but due to zoning, the building is required to have some low income housing. In the era of rising housing costs there is a tension between the role houses of worship play in the fight for fair housing. This article shows how faith based communities are supporting activists in the housing justice movement.

See you next week!

Looking to preserve your space through a variety of creative strategies?