Sign in to follow this  
Evans-Davis

Immanuel Lutheran

Recommended Posts

Evans-Davis    3

A demo application is pending for the old Immanuel Luthern church at the corner of 15th and Cortlandt. The request will be considered at this month's historic commission meeting. It is sad that the church seems determined to bulldoze this structure, which is not only part of the Houston Heights Historic Disticts but is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Several years ago, there were efforts aimed at saving the building. A neighbor who lives across the street was even willing to pledge some dollars toward the restoration. Thing quieted down until about a year and a half ago when the church again requested information on its options. I prepared a packet for them and then never heard another word. I wonder if there is unity on this issue within the congregation. Perhaps an online petition is in order. Anyone have other ideas?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Porchman    116

I wonder if there is unity on this issue within the congregation.

Unity in a church congregation is a rarity on most issues.happy.gif

I have several questions:

-What is driving their demo app.? Church finances? Need to expand the School?

-Are they even using the old nave for anything at this point? I think they only use the sanctuary on Arlington for services.

-What is the overall condition of the inside of the old structure and how solid is the structure itself?

A better understanding of the issues might help in determining options.

Also, what type of information did you provide to them a year or so ago?

Thanks for the heads-up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
tmariar    23

Perhaps an online petition is in order. Anyone have other ideas?

I'd be glad to mention the issue on Heights Blog, for what that's worth. Some nice photos of the church from different angles would be helpful, but I'm not sure when I'll have a chance to take any. If someone else has some, or can take some, and is willing to make them available online for use in raising awareness about the demolition application, that would be great. Otherwise, I'll take photos when I can.

I could also do easy online historical research, old newspapers and whatever, if that hasn't been done. Evans-Davis, do you happen to know?

I don't see the demo application posted on the city's site yet - I don't know how far in advance they typically post them, but this seems late.

Once the story is developed a little bit, maybe Swamplot would do a post. I think he/they read these threads.

An online petition might be good, too, yeah.

---------

Update: Didn't see much of interest about the church in old issues of the Galveston paper. Saw this 2002 article in the Chronicle - maybe that was the prior time period to which Evans-Davis referred above.

Here is the entry on the church from "Historic and Architectural Resources of Houston Heights":

"Site No. 26. Immanuel Lutheran Church. 1448 Cortlandt. ca. 1932. 1900--. Two-and-a-half-story, brick, eclectic church building with Gothic Revival influence; contrasting stone trim on battered piers and buttresses, and on steps to second level; stone railing; parapet tower at corner contains chimes; arched Gothic windows with stained glass; slightly arched doorway on second level is main entrance to nave; squared doorway under steps leads to basement (this was the first stage of construction); buttresses abound; stone foundation; pitched, wood shingled steep roof; gable end on front facade has carved cross; 'Immanuel Ev. Lutheran Church U. A. C.' is carved in the stone above the main doorway. Building dominates corner with its size; its style is complementary to surrounding residential structures; entire church complex assumes northern half of block with school and modern sanctuary. Present building important to social climate of the area are not compatible with the old church building or the surrounding structures." [That last sentence appears as written - not sure what it means.]

The church's website says that the basement which was dedicated in 1926 and was used for worship until 1932, when the superstructure was dedicated.

Edited by tmariar

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Zippy    7

I might be able to grab some pictures this weekend.. Shouldn't be raining.. This is a couple blocks from my house and I was kinda surprised to see the notice posted while driving by this morning. It doesn't look to be in disrepair, but I've never been inside. Maybe they're looking to expand their school ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
tmariar    23

The 2002 article suggested that what they needed was more office and meeting space. No idea if that is still the issue, though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Evans-Davis    3

Here's a photo: post-8571-1255539245541_thumb.jpg

The demo application has been submitted tot he city's historic preservation office. It will be considered by the historic commission on October 22. I have no doubt it will be denied. They will then have to wait 90-days. The actual demo permit doesn't show up in the city's online system until it is issued at the end of the 90-days.

The Chron article included in an earlier post did a good job of summarizing the situation. I believe they want more office and classroom space. As the article noted, however, a new building would have to comply with current setbacks and parking requirements. The existing structure is built with a zero lot line. The goal in 2002 was to find a way to renovate the church and still meet the needs for the additional space. It would still be the goal.

The information presented a year ago included the National Register entry, which was also included in an earlier post here, some information compiled following a visit by a representative of the Texas Historical Commission and some letters urging no demolition. The THC reports read as if a plan had been reached for renovation.

We are attempting to contact the church for a meeting. The sad thing is that it appears there has been no maintenance since 2002, meaning another seven years for deterioration.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Porchman    116

Thanks for posting the archived article, tmariar.

The goal in 2002 was to find a way to renovate the church and still meet the needs for the additional space. It would still be the goal.

That would be great. They likely would have to gut the inside and build a whole new structure in the shell, particularly to conform with fire regulations should they want to use part for the School.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Evans-Davis    3

A representative of the church was reached yesterday. He says they have no plans for the property after demolition. They are pursuing this option because they don't believe it is right to allow a building to sit and deteriorate. They say they have looked at all possible options - they just don't have the dollars needed to renovate. They understand the neighborhood's concerns and expect there could be intense opposition, including protests. They are willing to continue to listen and are open to ideas that might provide funding. Demolition will cost approximately $60,000. That would seem to be a good down payment on securing the structure. Demolition never allows for any reconsideration of options later.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
tanith27    295

No way. How could anyone even fathom sending this structure to the ground??? That should be criminal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
AtticaFlinch    706

No way. How could anyone even fathom sending this structure to the ground??? That should be criminal.

No kidding. This building is awesome.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
H8S 4 LIFE    5

No kidding. This building is awesome.

I am a member of Immanuel Lutheran, as well as an alumnus of the school. For some reason, I can't get the pictures to upload but the interior of the old church is in rough shape.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Evans-Davis    3

Here are some photos taken during our tour inside this morning. It is in good shape. The building is a rock. There are some problems. However, as is usually the case, these are not serious enough to be a death sentence. This is simply not a building that should come down. especially when one considers it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As of this morning, there is now interest from at least two potential buyers. Another option that hasn't been discussed is a land lease. In that situation the church doesn't lose the land. There are all kinds of uses for this structure. There just has to be willingness to consider them. I do hope that members of the congregation will participate, or at the very least, avail themselves of the historic commission hearing. It's a very good process for gaining information about the value of these treasures to our community.

post-8571-12557199044496_thumb.jpg

post-8571-12557199170301_thumb.jpg

post-8571-12557199289272_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
tmariar    23

I am a member of Immanuel Lutheran, as well as an alumnus of the school. For some reason, I can't get the pictures to upload but the interior of the old church is in rough shape.

Given that it's always been church property, though, I assume it's not suffered any serious neglect. Outdated, I'm sure. And with the price of land in the neighborhood being what it is, I'm guessing the church is looking to make the most of what it's got.

Still, I know the building must have some value to the church given the role it has played in the church's history. Will it really be that much cheaper to demolish the 1932 building and rebuild on that site than to renovate/repurpose the 1932 building? I've got no particular reason to doubt it - it just surprised me, especially considering that it sounds like the footprint of the new building will have to be smaller.

Update: Just saw Evans-Davis' post. Sounds tentatively promising.

Edited by tmariar

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
H8S 4 LIFE    5

It is indeed beautiful architecture, but the pictures posted don't give a true assessment of the overall condition of the building. These pictures don't show the basement below that is a moldy, nauseating mess. Keep in mind the church's basement has been flooded more times than I can remember, and never to the best of my knowledge has a professional water extraction ever occurred after one of these flood events since the sanctuary was moved to the newer building on Arlington many years ago. I don't want to see it torn down either, but it can't remain as it is. There are too many issues just waiting to happen. With as many children in the school starting at age 5 up to age 13, someone is going to let curiousity get the best of them and will end up leading to an injury, a lawsuit, or worse yet a death. As I recall, the last thing actually done to the building was the replacement of the stain glassed windows. Those had been broken out for years before their replacement back in the early (I believe) 90's, and needless to say the church was home to many birds during those years. Back in the 80's the day care was located in the basement of the old church. Once the health risks involved to those kids were realized, the day care was moved into the house the church purchased next door to the gymnasium.

Another church that falls into this category is the old North Main Baptist Church located at Gostic and 25th. While it holds a tremendous amount of historic value and has lived at that location for the better part of 100 years, it is in severe disrepair and if no one is going to restore it I'd rather see it come down than to fall down on someone or someone get hurt "exploring" it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Evans-Davis    3

Sorry. We didn't see any mold in the basement. In fact, I thought it odd that we didn't see any. That is where we entered. We traveled through the basement up to the sanctuary and then up to the balcony. Again, this is not a building that should come down. If there are people interested in buying it, people who are knowledgeable about renovation and rehabilitation, why not let them buy it? They obviously believe it to be worth saving. The estimated cost to shore it up is $30,000 or about half the cost of demolition. Securing the building leaves options available. Bulldozing is permanent.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hartmann    14

I'd be interested in donating time/money to renovate it. To me, it would make a great office space if a church cannot use it for its intended purpose.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
H8S 4 LIFE    5

Sorry. We didn't see any mold in the basement. In fact, I thought it odd that we didn't see any. That is where we entered. We traveled through the basement up to the sanctuary and then up to the balcony. Again, this is not a building that should come down. If there are people interested in buying it, people who are knowledgeable about renovation and rehabilitation, why not let them buy it? They obviously believe it to be worth saving. The estimated cost to shore it up is $30,000 or about half the cost of demolition. Securing the building leaves options available. Bulldozing is permanent.

Hmm...There may have been some clean-up done to the basement that I wasn't aware of. It has been a few years since I have set foot in the old building. I hope you are right Evans-Davis. I'd much prefer someone come in with a plan to renovate it as opposed to tearing it down. It has been at least 20 years since the building was used for anything besides the storage that you witnessed. Time is of the utmost importance with this structure. The longer it remains as is, the less chance the building has to remain repairable, IMO. What use do you think would be a viable use for the building, considering its location and connection with the adjacent buildings? I always thought that it would be a fantastic place for a Spanish ministry, if given the attention and repair the building needs.

Edited by H8S 4 LIFE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
H8S 4 LIFE    5

I'd be interested in donating time/money to renovate it. To me, it would make a great office space if a church cannot use it for its intended purpose.

Mr./Ms. Hartmann, are you of the Hartmann family of realtors? If so, another building that you would probably have some fondness for would be the original Baptist Temple Church building at the corner of 20th and Rutland. There is a building that has set long abandoned and in desperate need of someone's time and effort. I had family that were members of the Church for many years, and I know the Hartmann name was, and may still be, well recognized within the congregation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hartmann    14

Mr./Ms. Hartmann, are you of the Hartmann family of realtors? If so, another building that you would probably have some fondness for would be the original Baptist Temple Church building at the corner of 20th and Rutland. There is a building that has set long abandoned and in desperate need of someone's time and effort. I had family that were members of the Church for many years, and I know the Hartmann name was, and may still be, well recognized within the congregation.

I am not part of the Hartmann family of realtors, just a Heights resident wanting to keep the original buildings. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this