By Kristen Johanson
ARDMORE, Pa. (CBS) — Churches and other religious buildings have had a hard time staying afloat in recent years with economic downturn and drop in attendance rates. One Main Line company is repurposing the structures to save the historic buildings.
The Ardmore Baptist Church was built in 1923 and stood as a staple in the community for many years, before it went up for sale in 2011.
“That property had been acquired by a developer who was going to knock it down,” says Scott Brehman with Main Line Rebuild. “In fact, he had applied for a permit to demolish the building. We approached him and obviously came to terms.”
Along with Ardmore, Main Line Rebuild has worked in places like Narberth and Gladwyne as well. “There was so much money that was flowed into Philadelphia after the centennial through about the depression, that you have these incredible structures, mainly made out of stone that should be saved, and should be conserved,” he says.
Brehman says the company takes the older buildings and renovates them into living spaces.
“It’s really a national trend that places of worship are closing, and it’s up to these communities to find a way to adapt them into another use,” he says.
Since the buildings often stand at the town’s core, the renovated spaces are an attraction for people who want to downsize.
“The desire to move into these town centers were goods and services – restaurants, shopping, access to public transportation is close and it just so happens that all 3 of these churches fit that bill,” he says.
Brehman says the rehabbed structures keep their exterior shape and charm. Lower Merion township encouraged the reuse of the buildings, he says, and now they will be home to some very happy residents.