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The Reincarnation of a Church

main line rebuild, church, luxury real estate

Photos Credit: Main Line reBuild

Refurbishing old homes is pretty standard in the real estate business now, but sometimes history can get glossed over in the process. To combat that, adaptive reuse projects have been growing in popularity. Considered a compromise between total demolition and historic preservation, adaptive reuse takes a building and uses it for something it wasn’t originally intended for. Like the United Methodist Church in Narbeth, Philadelphia that Main Line reBuild turned into a contemporary condominium complex named Elm Hall.

Originally built in 1929, the place of worship had fallen into disrepair in recent years, causing it to be sold in 2013. When the bids rolled in, Main Line reBuild’s proposal was chosen because it was one of the only ideas that didn’t involve destroying the church—which would have been sacrilegious to many in the small community. 

main line rebuild, church, luxury real estate

The company has turned the original space into six different units and 12 lower-level parking spots, all without ruining the structure’s historical significance. According to Main Line, “Three residences have their own city courtyards, all six have fireplaces, two have lofts, two have private studies, all have stained glass without religious overtones, two have clerestories, four have two bedrooms and two baths, [and] two have three bedrooms.” (For those who aren’t up on architectural lingo, clerestories are windows placed well above eye level for additional light and air.)

main line rebuild, church, luxury real estate

One of Elm Hall’s biggest achievements was the preservation of the aforementioned original stained glass. Brea Mealey, a spokesperson for Main Line reBuild, told House Beautiful that they “replaced clear glass (not the colored images) with replacement glass obtained from Germany. The single panes of glass were not enough of a thermal barrier to the elements, so they had custom storm/screen units constructed to fit inside the windows." 

main line rebuild, church, luxury real estate

Keeping the building’s spirit alive was important to Main Line and while they had to make many changes to update the structure, they believe that saving it is a “better way to keep a community alive and progressing, while simultaneously paying homage to its past.”

Prices run from $700,000 to $1.1 million.

Mila Pantovich

Mila Pantovich lives in San Diego, CA with whatever animals she is fostering at the time. With a degree in Literature/Writing and a Minor in Film Studies, she holds a marketing position at a prestigious law firm and has written for several publications, including JustLuxe, Citizine and Huffington Post. In her spare time she writes film reviews for various online publications, works on a creative n...(Read More)

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