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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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Ker Robertson, Getty Images
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architecture
5 Scrapped Designs for the World's Most Famous Buildings
Ker Robertson, Getty Images
Ker Robertson, Getty Images

When an architect gets commissioned to build a skyscraper or a memorial, they’re usually not the only applicant for the job. Other teams of designers submit their own ideas for how it should look, too, but these are eventually passed over in favor of the final design. This is the case for some of the world’s most recognizable landmarks—in an alternate world, the Arc de Triomphe might have been a three-story-tall elephant statue, and the Lincoln Memorial a step pyramid.

GoCompare, a comparison site for financial services, dug into these could-have-been designs for Alternate Architecture, an illustrated collection of scrapped designs for some of the most famous structures in the world, from Chicago's Tribune Tower to the Sydney Opera House.

Click through the interactive graphic below to explore rejected designs for all five landmarks.

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Paul Wegener
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Design
For Sale: The Safest House in America, Complete With Hidden Command Center
Paul Wegener
Paul Wegener

For some people, locking the front door just isn't enough to feel fully safe at home. Maybe they set up a home security system. Maybe they go out and buy a fancy smart home hub with a security camera. Or maybe they spend six years and $30 million to build a veritable fortress mansion, as one guy in Atlanta did. That house, called the Rice House and referred to as one of the safest homes in America, is now up for sale for $14.7 million.

Built by an entrepreneur who hired a security architect with a background designing Justice Department buildings (and his own bunker/house), the Rice House is billed as a "modern fortress" in the real estate listing.

For its owner, creating an impenetrable home was more of a personal challenge than a real security need, according to Bloomberg. But by its features, you'd think it was built for a Bond super-villain or a head of state, not a businessman in a wealthy Atlanta neighborhood.

A secure door with several locks
Paul Wegener

It has its own water and power supply, a 5000-square-foot command center hidden behind a waterfall, a vault, and doors capable of withstanding machine gun fire. There’s an indoor gun range, in case you need some target practice. There’s enough room in the garage for 30 cars, in case you have a few dozen Batmobiles—or you want to invite friends to hunker down with you during the apocalypse.

And since anyone who lives there might be more invested in staying safely inside the gates than going out on the weekends, the place has plenty of amenities that make it a standalone mini-community. It’s got its own art gallery, a gym, a bowling alley, a wine cellar, a home theater, and a pool. It has three kitchens and two commercial elevators, with staff quarters so the servants you inevitably need to cater to you never need to leave, either.

But wait, there’s more. If the house lacks something you want, that’s fine! Because according to the listing, “the property purposefully awaits final personalization.” In other words, for your $14.7 million, it’s not finished.

Check it out here.

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