Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Johnstown Church Preservation Effort

The nonprofit groups Partners for Sacred Places and Save Our Steeples will begin searching for ways to best reuse three defunct churches.

Five Catholic churches once stood in the town’s Cambria City neighborhood, but last summer the Altoona-Johnstown Roman Catholic Diocese announced a merger would put three of those to disuse.

Save Our Steeples has since been raising money to save the churches from becoming warehouses – or parking lots, like the former St. Emerich church building.

But S.O.S. cofounder Marie Mock says her organization scored a victory earlier this year, when the Greater Johnstown Regional Partnership granted it $10,000.

“A lot of people are saying, ‘Well gee, if you’re going to put all that money into a study, why don’t you just do something with it yourself?’ Well, none of us are capable of doing this,” says Mock. “We’re not in the business of marketing these kind of buildings, and to do it properly, we’re going to have to spend money to make money.”

Mock says these buildings are works of art built by European immigrants, but they have uses beyond worship. She says the group held a successful concert in Immaculate Conception Church in February and plan another fundraiser for May 23.

For more information, visit Save Our Steeples' website.

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