For more than two decades, a number of Pittsburgh’s decommissioned houses of worship have been repurposed — as eateries, studios, community centers, music venues, and some, converted to just plain houses.
It’s an idea that remains popular: At any given time, churches of varying sizes are on the market for potential homebuyers.
“I think the biggest enticing aspect is just how unique the properties are, from what I’ve experienced,” says Tara Sill, a RE/MAX agent who has a former church among her listings. “Most of them are built so well. They’re structurally sound, but they also have such a great palette, so to speak; you can make it your own.”
And aside from remarkable features such as stained glass and intricately carved woodwork, a former church or synagogue property offers the additional aspect of having housed people engaged in religious practices. That spiritual exposure is a positive to some people, Sill says.
“Even maintaining the integrity of the sacred ground, and having the honor to prolong the life of that building, is attractive,” she says. “Some buyers have gravitated toward church properties — but it’s a unique buyer in a narrowed down market, and price determines.”
Here’s a look at Sill’s listing on Chislett Street in Morningside and other former churches recently on the market.
Neighborhood: 1401 Chislett St., Morningside
Asking price: $1,250,000
Year built: 1910
Description: The couple selling this home customized the living space with modern amenities such as radiant heat cork flooring to complement the church architecture. With 5 bedrooms and 3 baths, the home has 4,000 square feet and sits on five city lots.
The kitchen has a commercial gas stove and double oven; there’s an office, a great room, and an elevator shaft. Beautiful hardwood floors have been restored. The covered patio offers outdoor privacy.
Neighborhood: 1004 Madison Ave., East Allegheny
Asking price: $1,000,000
Year built: 1900
Description: Gorgeous woodwork and stained glass make this building stand out. The property includes a 4-bedroom, 2.5-bath single-family home, a duplex that has been renovated and is rented, and the church that was used as an arts event center.
The basement features workspaces, a kitchen and restrooms; the main floor also has a full kitchen and the third floor includes a stage. The current owner updated the HVAC system and air conditioning unit.
Neighborhood: 1 Pius St., Suite A3, South Side
Asking price: $549,000
Year built: 1861
Description: This 2-bedroom, 2.5-bath space at Angels Arms Condominiums has vaulted ceilings and an open-concept living space. Unique stained-glass shutters open to allow natural light to flow in from tall, arched windows.
The primary suite has a huge walk-in closet and bathroom. A balcony off of the suite provides sweeping city views. The building offers covered parking and a common area. The monthly condo association fee is $440.
Neighborhood: 412 Center Ave., Pitcairn
Asking price: $124,000
Year built: 1920
Description: With more than 4,000 square feet, this church comes with a 5-bedroom, 1.5-bath house — but needs some interior work, especially to the ceilings. But the brick buildings are solid, says listing agent Melissa Kennedy with Berkshire Hathaway.
With four levels, the church could be converted to commercial use — its lower level was previously used as a daycare center. The sanctuary and kitchen are wheelchair accessible.
Neighborhood: 430 Oak St., Anita, Jefferson County
Asking price: $125,000
Year built: 1953
Description: This church is located north of Punxsutawney in McCalmont Township and originally grew up around coal mining. At nearly 4,000 square feet, it has a brick exterior, stained glass windows and a glass front door.
The choir loft and vaulted ceilings remain, with characteristic church woodwork. There’s a partial basement, hot water heat (boiler) and one restroom.
Neighborhood: 2300 Beallsville Road, Marianna
Asking price: $350,000
Year built: 1862
Description: Featured in our January real estate article, the former Zollarsville Methodist Church remains on the market. With 4 bedrooms, 2 baths and a 1-acre lot, the Washington County property has lots of living space and distinctive beauty, inside and out.
Some features intrinsic to the church remain: hardwood floors, stained-glass windows, wall sconces and a staircase framed with original hand-carved altar railings. A detached, 2-car garage has a finished loft.
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