A few months ago, the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) Office of Real Estate listed 24 vacant schools for sale, ranging in size from 18,000 to 321,000 square feet. The website listed proper reuses for the schools, including an elementary school in Duluth, Minnesota converted into rental housing and a school in Flint, Michigan redeveloped as a senior housing complex. According to the National Apartment Association, schools-turned-apartment complexes is a growing trend and may even capture funding from various sources such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and state and local sources.
With shrinking church parishes struggling to raise funds to maintain their historic buildings, many of these architectural gems face a choice between neglect and redevelopment. Schools built in the early 20th century are increasingly facing this choice as well. Today we’re looking at former schools and churches around the globe that have been converted into breweries, apartments, and more.
Jopenkerk – Haarlem, Netherlands
Commercial brewing company Jopen BV transformed the old Jacobskerk in Haarlem’s city center into a brewery and restaurant. The doors opened to the public in 2010, and the massive copper brewing kettles and lagering tanks make an impressive centerpiece in the gorgeous stained-glass-windowed hall.
Atwater in the Park – Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan
Closer to home, Detroit’s Atwater Brewery converted the former Grace United Church into a biergarten and gastropub in 2014. Located on Kercheval and Lakepointe, the 7,500 square foot brewery offers dozens of Atwater beers on tap and a variety of German-inspired food options.
The Sanctuary – Washington, D.C.
“The Sanctuary is a condo development located in Washington, DC’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. The development features 30 units, 26 of which are located in a former church and four units in two adjacent row houses. The project is located within the Capitol Hill Historic District and the church sanctuary was built in 1916.” Stained glass windows feature in some of the units, which range from one- to three-bedrooms.
Norwegian Seamen’s Church – Brooklyn, New York
The former church, built in 1856, is now a 36-unit co-op in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens neighborhood. The 1986 conversion kept the “original Romanesque architectural elements as well as wooden pews in the lobby.”