11 New Uses for Old Churches

With so many churches around the world, it stands to reason that some will end up unused from time to time. But there's no reason to call in the demo crew. There are a lot of good ways to repurpose the House of God.

1. Restaurant & Brewery

The Church Brew Works in Pittsburgh pays special homage to the former occupant of its location with a beer called Pious Monk.

2. Children’s Indoor Playland

Image credit: City-Data

Kids were actually encouraged to run and scream in the church after the South Williamsport (PA) Methodist Church was converted into an indoor maze of playgrounds, slides, climbing walls and video games.

3. A Thoroughly Modern Home

It takes a good deal of remodeling to turn God’s home into your own, but it can be done. The web is packed with examples of beautiful residences, like this $2.3 million example in Denver, that are barely recognizable as former houses of worship - at least until you take notice of the steepled roof or the very church-like shape of the windows and doors.

4. Bookstore

Image credit: Design Top News

It’s probably a safe bet that you’ll be able to find at least a few copies of the Bible at the Bookstore Selexyz Dominicanen in the Netherlands.

5. Fraternity House

Image credit: Rensselaer/Daria Robbins

The Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity house at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, makes a convenient setting for all those hungover morning conversations with God promising to “never drink that much again.”

6. Entrepreneur Center

Image credit: TEDx Vasastan

Stockholm’s Entreprenörskyrkan, housed in a former Greek Orthodox Church, offers its own kind of heaven to small business startups: A fully furnished open-office environment that seeks "to have fun and play with ideas."

7. Laser Tag Arena

The Williams Grove amusement park in Harrisburg, PA, converted a charming, antiquated old church into a venue for modern sci-fi violence.

8. Alien Nativity Scene

One of the ideas behind artist Matt Henderson’s alien nativity scene at a former church in Portland was to help people recognize "the terrestrial nature of Christ.”

9. Atheist Headquarters

Image credit: Smyrna-Vinings Patch

The empty Collins Spring Primitive Baptist Church in Atlanta needed someone to save it from the vandals and the wrecking ball. In stepped the Atlanta Freethought Society - an organization of atheists that uses the building as part of its mission to “provide a community for non-theists in the Metro Atlanta area through educational, advocacy and social activities.”

10. Winery

If you ever make it to the South River Vineyard in Shalersville, OH, please refrain from asking them if their production process includes turning water into wine. I’m sure they already get that 100 times a day.

11. Skatepark

Image credit: MATTKINGTHESKATER/Panoramio

Skaterham is an indoor skatepark that has been operating for more than a decade out of an abandoned church in Surrey, England.

What did we miss? What other church conversions have you seen?

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January 30, 2012 - 11:26am
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