Is it blasphemous to turn a former place of worship into a fully outfitted luxury home? That, of course, depends on who you ask — and in some cases, how the transformation is executed. A recent wave of church conversions has stoked a discussion surrounding decency in new development, particularly regarding whether it’s possible to adapt such buildings respectfully.
Still, developers and investors are preaching the gospel of church conversions, particularly in Chicago’s rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods. Some projects, like the St. Boniface Church in Noble Square, have been celebrated by preservationists and community members. Others, such as the Church of the Advent in Logan Square, which reused holy relics as interior finishes, earned the ire of neighbors.
So long as the number of congregations in Chicago continues to dwindle, it’s a virtual certainty that churches will be transformed for residential use. After all, these buildings’ histories as places of worship haven’t stopped buyers from spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on them.
Here’s a look at a few former churches available to buy, lease, or rent for a short-stay in Chicago
Any aesthetic connection this Logan Square building once had to its former life is long gone: the residence has been quite literally whitewashed. The simple single-story’s contemporary look carries over to the interior, with an open, airy floor plan and light finishes.
This former church in Wrigleyville has been thoroughly gutted and retrofitted with 12 residences, including this listing for a two-bedroom, single-bathroom condo. At $350,000, you can’t expect high-end finishes, but the unit does come with a heated garage space.
It was this image of an altar repurposed as a kitchen island that recently sparked a conversation online, and eventually in front of television cameras, about what constitutes appropriate adaptive reuse of spiritual architecture. Taste put aside, this spacious three-bedroom apartment in Logan Boulevard’s Church of the Advent is a pricey one.
For less than $1,000 a night, a group of a dozen can rent out this church conversion on Washtenaw Avenue in Logan Square. Having spent a century serving as a place of worship, the wide-open space with cathedral ceilings was decommissioned and repurposed for residential use in the 1990s, the Airbnb listing notes.