Blum describes the conversion of church buildings into residential homes by developers who have purchased church property from congregations who grew too small to stay in their facilities.
The report describes the benefits–30 to 40 foot high ceilings, beautiful stained glass windows, marble flooring, etc–as well as the challenges–30 to 40 foot high ceilings, historic landmark status, few existing interior walls, etc. Blum also quoted one converted-church resident who reported having people stop by to ask when the services started and to speak to the pastor.
Several of the developers reported mixed feelings about purchasing and converting these historic church building into residential dwellings, a sentiment likely understood and shared by members of a faith community that worships in a historic worship space.
While healthy congregations know that a church is the people who gather to work for the common good of humanity, there is an emotional attachment to the space in which they have grown up in faith. Just as a family knows it is the people that make the home, there remains a emotional attachment to the space in which they have grown up in life.
The good news is that some of the dwindling congregations were able to re-locate to more suitable, affordable space and location, while the buildings are able to be preserved even as they are re-purposed to provide quality housing for people.
Here is a Wall Street Journal video on “Converting Churches into Homes:”
The full-text of Blum’s article can be found here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324001104578163303753632508.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLE_Video_Third
Here are a few links to sites with images of churches converted into residences: