Wondering what the future could hold for one of the city’s most beloved church buildings? Find out with author BJ Hill in the Sun’s serial glimpse into the fantastic (and mostly fictional) possibilities of a not-so distant tomorrow.
WORCESTER, June 9, 2019 – Within the city of Worcester there are 12 former church buildings that are facing the wrecking ball. Three of these buildings date back to the 1880s. They are cherished, sacred spaces where generations of parishioners married, baptized children, and said their goodbyes to loved ones. But in the last few decades, congregations of every faith have thinned out. While a giant extravagant property was once a symbol of reverence and success for a parish, now it’s become maintenance headaches for cash-strapped finance committees.
Some congregations sought to let go of the buildings, but developers know it’s daunting to repurpose thick cement walls, redesign a cavernous interior, and maintain the cultural and historical legacy.
Some church buildings were sold to the highest bidder, anyway, to await uncertain futures. With uninterested new owners and a minimum of maintenance, the once-mighty cornerstones of communities now decay and molder until they’re no longer safe to keep standing.
But a local company called Altar2Table is on a preservation campaign to purchase the properties and fix them up for what once would have been considered a most unlikely use: urban farms.
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Altar2Table’s first purchase was Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church on Mulberry Street, which was officially closed by the Diocese of Worcester in 2016. After a year of renovations, the farm commenced operations in January 2019 and yielded its first harvest in April.