Tuesday, March 1, 2011

This Building was Condemned

Today’s #letsblogoff topic is “What is Legacy.”
It took my breath away. I planed to blog something else. But yesterday Deacon Means invited me inside.

The Pentecostal Church of God on Howard Street in Kirkwood bought this condemned building in 1996. Members moonlighted for 6 years to bring it back, holding their first service here in 2002.
P1030501-2010-08-20-Howard-Kirkwood-Brick-Church-Corinthian-Columns Kirkwood Pentecostal Church of God Atlanta

I've mentioned it before, a neoclassical beauty where you'd never expect it. The building is a happy leftover from the town of Kirkwood, a streetcar suburb now engulfed by Atlanta. From almost all-white community, to an almost all-black one, to the gentrifying mix it is now, it still seems like its own community with it's own town center.

I drive by on occasional Mondays wondering what's inside. Yesterday I parked my car and circled the building on foot, hoping to find someone, at least peek inside. Nobody.

As I drove away, Deacon Means waved to me from the sidewalk, not too sure of my intentions. But he invited me in, not for the last time I hope.

The 1920's must have been a great decade for churches. This is probably a new cornerstone. The Israel Missionary Baptist Church purchased the building in 1964 and worshiped here until 1979 when they moved to a bigger facility a few blocks away. Was is abandoned from '79 until '96?

I presume there were a handful of architectural firms that specialized in these churches, who could deliver classic details on budget. This one would shine on any main street in America.

I was not ready for the inside, not ready for the exhilaration. (My little camera washed out the stained glass which is in every window.)

It was about noon. No lights were on.


Here are the balcony level windows.

From the balcony, wow. The baptismal pool is behind the red curtains above the choir.

No problem seeing from the back row of the balcony.

I've never seen this before: The narthex doesn't extend the width of the sanctuary. There are two entrances, each leading to a small narthex with stairs to the balcony. Light streams in from north, east, and south.

I'm grateful to Deacon Means and the members of the Pentecostal Church of God who brought this beautiful place back to life and gave me a chance to see it. Thanks to Bill Lyons and Bobby Mays who inspire to me to look.

I'm going to need a bigger camera. I want to see this place filled with people.

Here are all the pictures of the Pentecostal Church of God on Howard Street in Kirkwood.


  1. What a beauty! How lucky that you were able to see the inside.

  2. Very similar to the Presbyterian church I went to while living in Schuyler Nebraska, also from the same time period (which they stupidly tore down and replaced with an awful 'conTEMPORARY' structure). Really idential floorplan to the sanctuary anyway.
    This is really lovely - that stained glass is gorgeous.

  3. WOW! Way back when I used to live in St. Paul I knew this crazy guy who bought a neighborhood church, renovated it and made it his home. Since then, I've always wanted to live in a church! I just think we don't recycle enough of our buildings.

    BTW, thank you for using the correct form of '79 and '96. I noticed that right away...

  4. Beautiful! It looks almost identical to my old churh when i lived in Memphis. I can't believe a magnificent place like this was almost torn down, so glad it survived!

  5. Here is a very interesting plan with the desire to give the effect of a columned portico, but not having the room to do so. And there was no room for a foyer either; the flanking entrances open directly into the sanctuary. Usually auditoriums without a center aisle at least have a central door for traditional ceremonial exits.

  6. Yes DC. I imagined the church folks looking at the church architect's pattern books, picking the option that allowed more seating on the same footprint by converting and dividing the narthex.

  7. Wow! So glad to hear someone thought this was worthy of resurrecting! Amazing details and light!

  8. I grew up in Kirkwood, and as a small child this was the first church I ever attended - about 60 yrs. ago. It was then Howard St. Baptist Church. It's shame they didn't save the original cornerstone(s), too, for their history. The congregation then moved, in the early 1950s, to the Kirkwood Baptist Church on (then) Boulevard Dr. (now Hosea Williams Blvd.) It is a much larger building, needed for and built by the growing congregation. Both are quite beautiful inside and out. Although I seem to remember the wrap-around balcony, the only vivid memory of this building I have is a candle-lit service around Christmas when, as a small child singing in the choir, I found it quite spooky. It's nice to see how light and bright it is during daytime hours. Thanks for the pix!


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