Old Churches 2: Let’s Put on a Show!

You got yourself an old worship space. Certainly the place was designed with the best acoustics achievable at the time. Lots of seating, too. And with luck there’s plenty of parking. Does that say theater to you? It does to me!

And this is not as sacrilegious as it seems. Before it was a secular entertainment, drama was an act of worship. The statue of Apollo, god of art, is set up this theater, the Roman theater at Orange in Provence, and performances began with prayers and sacrifice.

So that’s a natural direction for modern churches, and many go that way. Here is The Old Church Concert Hall, in downtown Portland, Oregon. It was built in 1882, one of the oldest churches in town, and is a magnificent example of Carpenter Gothic that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Unfortunately there aren’t enough Presbyterians downtown now to keep it alive as a worship space. In the 1960s, to prevent demolition, a coalition of concerned citizens converted it into a concert hall, and it’s been happily in use ever since for chamber music, lunchtime concerts, and other events.



About Brenda Clough

Brenda W. Clough spent much of her childhood overseas, courtesy of the U.S. government. Her first fantasy novel, The Crystal Crown, was published by DAW in 1984. She has also written The Dragon of Mishbil (1985), The Realm Beneath (1986), and The Name of the Sun (1988). Her children’s novel, An Impossumble Summer (1992), is set in her own house in Virginia, where she lives in a cottage at the edge of a forest. Her novel How Like a God, available from BVC, was published by Tor Books in 1997, and a sequel, Doors of Death and Life, was published in May 2000. Her latest novels from Book View Cafe include Revise the World (2009) and Speak to Our Desires. Her novel A Most Dangerous Woman is being serialized by Serial Box. Her novel The River Twice is newly available from BVC.


Old Churches 2: Let’s Put on a Show! — 4 Comments

  1. I love the soaring spaces and stained glass, but of course renovation is always harder than expected. The use for a theater is traditional, as you point out!