Extreme Real Estate: Divine Domiciles


As congregations of all denominations ebb, flow, shrink and grow, church buildings that are no longer used or needed are sold off. Sometimes they are purchased by other religious organizations and sometimes they are snatched up by clever buyers itching to convert them to eccentric residential properties.

But before dashing out to buy a charming chapel or a pretty parsonage, keep in mind that in order to convert The Lord’s House into your house the building must be deconsecrated and in many cases rezoned as residential property.

A Deconsecrated Condo in Chicago

In the mid-1990s, a red brick church built in 1888 in the West Town area of Chicago was deconsecrated and converted into 14 unique, loft style condos including a top-floor duplex currently for sale with an asking price of $479,900. The approximately 1,600 square-foot unit includes 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and an awe-inspiring, barrel-vaulted living and dining room that soars 22 feet toward the heavens.

A massive and magnificent semi-circular stained glass window tosses multi-colored shadows on the interior walls, the top shelves of the built-in bookcases are accessible by a rolling library ladder and the private balcony at tree-top level is the perfect spot to commune with nature. More practical and earthly delights include the in-unit laundry, two secured parking spaces, central heat and air and the upgraded kitchen and bathrooms outfitted with slate flooring, hickory cabinets, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances.

For additional information, contact Greg Vollan (312) 342-4433 at @Properties in Chicago, Ill.

Chicago Church

Take Sanctuary In San Francisco

Anchoring the corner of a pretty palm-tree-lined boulevard across from historic Dolores Park sits a behemoth formerly known as the Golden Gate Luthran Church that was recently transformed into one of San Francisco’s largest and most unusual private residences.

Due to a dwindling congregation and the need for a costly and colossal seismic retrofit required by the city, the massive masonry building ceased operating as a church in 2005. The property was purchased in 2007, deconsecrated, retrofitted and meticulously remodeled into a sprawling 17,000 square-foot single-family residence currently for sale with a $9,950,000 asking price.
San Francisco Church
Spread throughout the hallowed halls of the 19-room multi-story building are 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms including a massive master suite with a luxurious bathroom and a divine dressing room. Several other rooms can be utilized or divided into additional bedrooms. The leviathan living room, once used as the sanctuary, is long and tall enough in which to play a game of pick-up basketball (really, it is!), the double-height dining room is fit for fêtes and feasts and supper for 12 or more can easily be whipped up in the entirely new, state-of-the-art eat-in kitchen.

The ecclesiastical building boasts all-new mechanicals, a new roof, new mahogany windows, four new fireplaces, numerous skylights and glass floor inserts on the upper floors that allow light to penetrate the lower floors. The original doors and hardware have been painstakingly restored, as have the original stained glass panels and wood paneling.

The bell tower and new roof terrace provide 360-degree views and the 3,000 square-foot garage holds 4-6 cars, a true blessing in the heart of parking-challenged San Francisco.

For additional information, contact John L. Woodruff III or Marcus Miller (415) 516-5760 at Hill & Co. Real Estate in San Francisco, Calif.

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