Main Line reBuild converting old churches into new homes

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They were pillars of many of our local communities for decades, even centuries. And today, old churches are getting new life. (WPVI)

They were pillars of many of our local communities for decades, even centuries... and today old churches are getting new life.

Along the Main Line we toured some of the stunning structures that will continue to stand and serve in a uniquely re-envisioned way.

One of the churches we saw was Narberth Methodist Church.

As we walked through, Scott Brehman of Main Line rebuild said, "We're saving it and we're re-purposing it so it can continue for hundreds of years in time."

Built in 1929, sadly Narberth Methodist Church is one of many local houses of worship that could no longer sustain, and shuttered its doors a few years ago.

Brehman says, "Think about the timeframe - '25 to 1929. We're coming into the Great Depression, and yet this structure was constructed at that time."

Brehman says the goal is to keep the solid stone construction faade outside, but convert the inside into luxury living.

"We saw an opportunity to save the structure, repurpose the structure - the term is 'adaptive reuse,'" he said.

They preserved some of the original features - like a Romeo and Juliet balcony in what is now a master bedroom.

They are also saving all 43 original stained glass windows. And depending on the buyer, they can remove all religious implications.

Showing us one of the large stained glass windows, Brehman explained, "The top framework and the bottom framework, which really are not overtly religious, will be preserved. The center sections will be made into clear glass."

By late summer the main church will house six units, starting in the $700,000 range.

They've also converted the Barry House, the minister's former residence, into more condos.

And along the Main Line, they're doing the same to the former Ardmore Baptist Church, which will soon be the Arbors at Athens, and Gladwyne United Methodist Church.

"And what's been very interesting is we're seeing all faiths that are coming through and looking at these units," Brehman said.

As part of the restoration they are also trying to somehow incorporate the wooden structure where the minister sat, and the bricks bearing the names of each minister who served there. But they do have bricks belonging to generations of local family members and invite anyone who belonged there to come pick them up.
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