GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Rapids church that’s more than 140 years old has a new owner after sitting vacant for years.
Carol Moore bought the church off Diamond Avenue NE at Hermitage Street in the East Hills neighborhood in October 2017 for $100,000. Her vision for it isn’t yet fully imagined, but it will be some sort of community center.
Built in 1875, it was originally a Third Reformed Church. It’s on the national registry of historic places. Moore, who has had a hand in several restoration projects including the Wealthy Theatre, said she’ll be preserving much of that history as she restores the building.
“It was the center of gravity, from the history I’ve read, for Dutch immigrants,” she said.
It remained that way, Moore said, until the 1960s. It then became an African-American church, then home to a Latino congregation before it was left vacant.
Now, Moore wants it to again serve the community.
“It needs some love,” Moore said of the building. “I think especially in old buildings, they’re built very well, they’ve stood the test of time, they were built for that purpose and they generally anchor a neighborhood and that’s really important.”
She wants to maintain the building’s history and at the same time prepare for a new chapter.
“It’s beautiful what you discover,” she said Sunday as she gave 24 Hour News 8 a tour of the church. “Woodwork, it’s just gorgeous, and molding and stained glass and it’s just very thoughtful architecture. The walls and the ceiling are metal. So it’s a very live space. So I think it has good resonance and it’s not too cavernous that it’s echoey. So I think sound acoustically is very good here.”
Moore says that bodes well for performance and music, which the new center may support, aiming to regenerate devotion to the arts in East Hills.
The new owner says it will take between three and five years to restore the building, but she’s already replaced the roof.
>>App users: Photos from inside the church