Could you live in an old church?

By: Conrad Neuf , Contributing Writer
In: Uncategorized, Old Houses, Old House Musings, Non Residential Buildings, House Styles

National Preservation Month isn’t just about bringing attention to the plights of old houses in danger of being lost forever – it’s also about working to preserve historical structures of all shapes and sizes. An OldHouseWeb.com reader recently came across an article about an old church in Australia that was saved by undergoing a conversion, but not to a congregation of a different faith: it’s going to be a family’s home.

Australian church conversion -- photo from homedesign.com

Australian church conversion -- photo from homedsgn.com

Converting old churches into homes isn’t all that unusual, as it turns out. I’m not sure where he got his data, but a Dallas realtor claimed that “de-sanctified churches are the number-one type of building converted to residential use.” The fact that he was showing a $1.949 million church conversion listed for sale probably I am sure had absolutely nothing to do with his feeling that way. However, he may have been on to something, as a very rudimentary Internet search came up with other converted churches in England, Chicago, and San Francisco. I know I’ve read several articles about old churches being turned into homes in the past, but they were small quaint country churches rather than a colossal structure where the Mormon Tabernacle Choir might feel right at home.

What are your thoughts about living in an old church conversion?

The first question I think anyone would need to ask is whether they would be comfortable living in a building that once served as a house of worship. You might also want to consider all the funerals the structure may have hosted over the years, but on the plus side — the graveyard that could be right outside your back door might go a long way toward reducing landscaping costs!

Dallas church conversion -- photo from CNNMoney.com

Dallas church conversion -- photo from CNNMoney.com

I don’t think I could live in an old church, but it’s not because of religious beliefs or thoughts of the dead. I’m a fan of small, cozy, energy-efficient homes, and thoughts of heating and cooling a structure that large would keep me awake at night. Okay — the graveyard might have something to do with not sleeping soundly, too. I’m always open to different opinions, though, and I would like to hear what my readers think. Could you live in a church that’s been converted into a home? Are there any church-to-house conversions in your area, or have you ever had a chance to tour one?

Regardless of what your thoughts are about living in a former church, it’s obvious the architects and contractors involved in the Australian conversion did a great job and the end result is beautiful. I plan to examine the  transformation in a little more depth during my next post and will also begin looking at other historic structures that have found new lives as homes. If you know of any older unique buildings that are now serving as a family residence, please let me know.