What to Do With Down-on-Their-Luck Churches?
A regular reader named Eric M. Jones, from Southbridge, Mass., writes in with a question worth considering: what should be done with the growing inventory of churches that no longer can afford their facilities?
To be clear, I am basically atheist.
I live in a town with an overabundance of churches. Now the churches are broke and heating the things for services uses more money than the collections. At least two of the huge Catholic churches need millions in refurbishment and can’t possibly support themselves. The biggest, Notre Dame, is an amazing structure built with white marble blocks bought military surplus — the stones were to be used for headstones for people killed in the Spanish-American war. It is in the U.S. national Register of Historic Places.
Sacred Heart is hardly less significant. The German stained glass is priceless.
Recently people around the country have been rediscovering that Louis Comfort Tiffany made the church windows, and they are being sold to make other things (lampshades?).
BIG QUESTION FOR DISCUSSION: How best to use the hollowed halls? This is a common problem, and there should be a number of good answers. Some European churches have turned into techno-dance-nightclubs. Probably wouldn’t work here.