Remains of Missouri church reborn as open-air art center

The Pulitzer Arts Foundation’s Spring Church project has resurrected the burnt-out shell of a St. Louis, Missouri, church building as a beautified, open air public space for artists to display their work. Photo courtesy Jim Corbett

The Pulitzer Arts Foundation’s Spring Church project has resurrected the burnt-out shell of a St. Louis, Missouri, church building as a beautified, open air public space for artists to display their work.

In 2001, the Gothic-revival-style church in the city’s Grand Center Arts District was destroyed by a fire. Only an architectural shell was still left standing. Known as the “Spring Church,” the remaining structure became a beloved community landmark and the site of impromptu gatherings and other events.

The foundation began improving the church in 2020, with the goal of stabilizing the structure while maintaining the architectural character of the building. The design was undertaken by St. Louis-based Kiku Obata & Company and McNealey Engineering, Inc.

The roofless church is open to the sky, retaining a feature which has helped make the building a well-known site in the neighborhood. Some of the updates include accessible pathways, masonry repairs, and infrastructure for electricity and lighting.

In addition to the Spring Church restoration, the initiative also encompasses an adjacent lot which has undergone enhancements and will remain a publicly accessible green space. Designed by Studio Land Arts of Granite City, Illinois, this space includes seating and plants, integrating architectural elements from a former building which were unearthed during construction.

The opening celebration for the Spring Church will take place in October 2022.

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