Tuesday, October 26, 2010

House (of God) for Sale (II)

3BR, 2.5BA, Pulpit, Bell Tower, $7.5M

The century-old church has a pulpit, a pew and a bell tower. But instead of a congregation, the historic, red-brick structure has a single occupant, the homeowner. Siamak Akhavan purchased the 20,000-square-foot building five years ago and transformed it into an unusual single-family residence. Now, he's ready to sell. He has put the former Golden Gate Lutheran Church on the market for $7.49 million. "Some people say that it's weird and eerie, but my perspective is that this is a house of the Lord," Marcus Miller, a real estate agent representing Akhavan, told AOL News. "What better place to re-purpose and live than a house that has been blessed. One could say it's a step toward heaven."
The city of San Francisco condemned the church. Attempts to sell it were unsuccessful until Akhavan, an engineer who ran a seismic retrofit company, stepped in and paid $2.25 million for it in 2007. "Face it, in our society, our values are changing and people are spending the Sabbath day differently," said Miller, the son of a Lutheran minister. Akhavan spent nearly $3 million converting the church into a 12-room single-family residence, with three bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, a meditation room at the top of the bell tower, a chef's kitchen and a very large living room. He said the conversion of churches to serve other purposes has become common in many parts of the world. "I travel a lot, and I see a lot of churches being transformed into houses, restaurants, even nightclubs in Europe," Akhavan told AOL News. "In Montreal, I have seen them turned into galleries. There is not as much demand for churches. The congregations hang on to it until they have to do a lot of work, and then they decide it's not worth it." The church is in a neighborhood that is zoned residential, so Akhavan could not turn it into a commercial structure. Converting the space into condominium units would have meant substantially altering the character of the building and damaging such features as the high ceiling of the nave and chancel. So he decided to turn the church into a single-family home and maintain as much of its original character as possible. He hired artists to hand-paint the coffered ceiling and restore the stained-glass windows. He spent $200,000 to put on a new roof and $400,000 to replace windows and doors. He installed skylights, restored wood floors and paneling, and created a six-car garage in one corner of the vast ground floor.


 Living Room
 Master Bedroom
 Bedroom 1
 Bedroom 2
 Dining Room

 Floor Plans

Monday, October 25, 2010

Formerly the Golden Gate Lutheran Church for Sale on Zillow.com (I)

Take a look at this former church in San Francisco’s Mission District that has spared no expense for its re-do and furnishings.
It’s for sale for $7,490,000.

COMING SOON! Formerly the Golden Gate Lutheran Church, this stunning Gothic Revival style building is now one of the most extraordinary and largest single family homes in San Francisco. This one-of-a-kind property features an enormous living area that includes the original sanctuary with soaring, coffered and hand-painted ceilings, arched windows framing Dolores Park as well as most of the original stained glass windows, custom mahogany wood finishes, four fireplaces (2 wood-burning & 2 gas), a new chef's kitchen and a spacious dining room. The Master suite level features a marble Roman tub room, dressing room and incredible 360 degree views from the tower meditation room and deck. The home includes an expansive ground floor level that could be used as exhibition space, recording studio, gym and/or home office. There is also a garage that accommodates 4-6 cars.

This is an amazingly warm and inviting space, in spite of the square footage due to all the warm wood. Incredible neighborhood with Dolores Park directly across the street and some of the hottest cafes and restaurants in San Francisco just a short block away.


Falling Through Cracks / City churches are closing because they can't afford earthquake retrofitting

Even with its parapets and stained glass, Golden Gate Lutheran Church on the corner of 19th Street and Dolores in the Mission isn't the prettiest building around. Truth be told, the red-brick edifice built in 1912 has a bit of the humble workhorse about it. Nor does it attract the most worshippers. According to Pastor Ed Miller, the congregation of active members amounts to only about 35 or 40 people.
But like so many inner-city churches, it made itself relevant -- and for some people indispensable -- by filling gaps in our yawning social safety net. Until recently, it was a bustle of activity morning, noon and night. Over two dozen 12-step programs met there weekly, some with hundreds of participants.
In the past few years, the church housed a homeless shelter and a preschool. Four afternoons a week, it sponsored a drop-in program for anyone who needed a hot meal and a place to come in off the streets.
Three other churches -- two Pentecostal churches (one gay and one straight) and a Mennonite church -- shared the sanctuary for worshipping services. In the purest sense of the word, despite the small congregation, the church had become a refuge. For those without family, it offered fellowship. For those without government assistance (or enough of it), it offered food, shelter and other basic needs.
Now the building grows ever quieter as its many groups search for other places to meet. Soon the doors will close altogether. Then the church will enter a real estate no-man's-land. Why? Because it's caught between a seismic building code and a very hard place.
Golden Gate Lutheran Church is only one of over 25 places of worship and an estimated 2,500 buildings around the city that have been affected by new seismic codes for unreinforced masonry buildings. In the years since the unreinforced masonry building code was written in 1992 (generally referred to as the UMB code), most of these buildings have been brought up to code or demolished.
But an estimated 300 buildings -- including several churches and synagogues -- remain noncompliant. Feb. 15 was the deadline for bringing all buildings in San Francisco into compliance, so the city is stepping up its efforts, after granting repeated extensions to property owners.
"We try to be as fair as we can," said UMB building inspector Jerry Sullivan. "We try to make it clear to property owners what their legal responsibility is."
But for many congregations, fulfilling that legal responsibility carries too high a price.
"We just can't afford it," said Miller from his shadowy book-lined office off the sanctuary. He told me the church had made a good-faith effort to bring the building into compliance, spending $130,000 to fix the roof and parapets in 1998. But the estimates for the interior work -- around $2.5 million -- are far beyond the community's means.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral designed by Louis Sullivan - Chicago, IL

Address: 1121 N. Leavitt St.
Year Built: 1903
Architect: Louis H Sullivan
Date Designated a Chicago Landmark: March 21, 1979

Designed to resemble the Russian provincial churches known to its first parishioners, this elegant church is an unexpected feature of its neighborhood. Even more surprising is the fact that its construction was partially paid for by Russian Czar Nicholas II. The walls of the church are load-bearing brick covered with stucco; the detailing of the two-story rectory repeats the same sinuous curve found in the roofline of the church. The ideologies held by the client and the designer harmonized well in this project, producing one of the most-inspired, small-scale works of influential architect Louis Sullivan.


The church was commissioned by the growing Russian congregation of Chicago, Illinois, and stands within the neighborhood known today as Ukrainian Village. It remains one of only two Orthodox Churches servicing the orthodox community in Ukrainian Village. Construction work, partly financed by Tsar St. Nicholas II of Russia, lasted from 1899 to 1903. The church retains many features of the Russian provincial architecture, including an octagonal dome and a frontal belltower. It is believed that the emigrants wished the church to be "remindful of the small, intimate, rural buildings they left behind in the Old World". Actually, the church would have passed unnoticed in the Russian countryside, if it were not for Sullivan's hallmark modern sensibility. The cathedral's interior is based on the St Volodymyr's Cathedral in Kiev. The church is highlighted in numerous books on church architecture, among them Chicago Churches: A Photographic Essay by Elizabeth Johnson (Uppercase Books Inc, 1999) as well as The Spiritual Traveler's Guide to Chicago and Illinois by Marilyn Chiat (HiddenSpring 2004). The church was consecrated by St.Tikhon of Moscow and was under the spiritual guidance of St. John of Chicago (Kochurov) during its early years.
The church was elevated to a cathedral in 1923, and stands today a member of the Orthodox community in Chicago. It serves as the Cathedral Church of the Orthodox Church in America with Archpriest John Adamcio as its dean.