It is not an uncommon scenario in which populations shrink, causing church closures and consolidations. What is left is a crumbling structure that no one knows what to do with.
As a lifelong resident of Pittsburgh, I have seen the travesties that have occurred in the name of “progress.” Historic buildings such as St. Nicholas Croatian Church have been lost and others such as the Paramount building were narrowly saved — and this is just downtown. Smaller communities all around the city have also been losing historic buildings which ultimately damages the fabric of the community. The thing that gets me most fired up, however, is the loss of historic churches.
Historic Neighborhood Churches
What happens next is just shameful.
After the Closure
After the closure of these churches, they are often left to deteriorate — sometimes for decades. If the governing bodies (I’m looking at you Catholic Church) were honest with themselves they would admit that these buildings will never again be used as places of worship. At this point, these buildings should be put up for sale so that a buyer can reuse the building.
Once pipes are broken, copper scrapped, and windows broken it would be be financially difficult for anyone to rehab the property. The churches then claim that they can’t find a buyer and request that the structure be torn down. Then (shockingly) the cleared property is sold for development for much more than the church itself would have sold for.
The Future of Historic Churches
In addition, let’s mention the elephant in the room. Once these churches are gone, that’s it. In a cookie-cutter world, these buildings add character to a community. We will never again see that level of beauty and craftsmanship put into a building. We are not only erasing our history but we are also erasing what makes us unique.
Instead of fighting historic preservation, churches need to embrace it and stop looking for ways to make a dollar. We all can do better.