The growing issue of abandoned historic churches

June 28, 2021

With the size of many church congregations dwindling, resulting in difficulties in their ability to maintain their church buildings, the issue as to what happens to abandoned historic churches is a growing issue. The issue has arisen in St. Petersburg as well as in cities around the country and has been reported on by the New York Times.

One such church in St. Petersburg is the former Westminster Presbyterian Church located in the Historic Old Northeast neighborhood. Services ended there in 2015. As the decision was being made to put the church property on the market in 2019, city council moved forward with designating the church as a local landmark. In June 2021 the property sold, future plans for the property are not yet known but demolition of the historic church building will be discouraged as a result of its landmark designation.

Another historic church building whose use is presently in question is the 10th Street Church of God, a building over 100 years old and a designated local landmark located in a historically African American section of downtown known as Methodist Town. The ability of the congregation to maintain the building is in question and it is suspected the church may be sold. PTB has reached out to the Church to see if a solution can be found that will allow for ongoing use of the historic structure while meeting the needs of the congregation.

Another landmark designated church building for sale is the Holy Redeemer Lutheran Church at 4355 Central Ave. It was renovated in 2018 by Squaremouth for office use. The building is again on the market. St. Petersburg’s most recent historic church reuse success story is the former Church of the Beautitudes in the Crescent Heights neighborhood. The church was converted into a single family residence and sold on its first day on the market in April, 2021.