Mark Hamin, Chair - Michael DiPasquale, Member
The Catholic Church has experienced changes in the past half-century that have resulted in the restructuring of many dioceses, especially in the Midwest and Northeast, which, due to the consolidation of parishes, has left many church buildings in disuse. Because the architecture and design of many of these buildings are unique to the use of a church, adaptive reuse strategies are challenging to implement but, due to their place in the vernacular of their respective neighborhoods and their ties to cultural heritage, the loss of the building is generally deemed tragic. Trends in the adaptive reuse of church buildings have been primarily commercial in nature, although, recently, there have been more cases of converting former church spaces into luxury condos. It is the view of this researcher that the original interior of these spaces should also be considered in the reuse strategy, and that these buildings should continue to play a positive role in their surrounding communities.
Currently, there is no general consensus on a set of best practices regarding the adaptive reuse of church buildings, and literature on the subject is limited. In order to form a set of adaptive reuse strategies specific to Catholic church buildings a variety of methods are used including interviews, a review of available literature, GIS analysis, and conducting case studies of previous reuse practices of converting Catholic church buildings for community-based uses. Recommendations for similar properties formed from this study will then be applied to the research site of Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church in Springfield, Massachusetts, a building recently closed by the Diocese of Springfield.