The Stunning Second Lives of 10 Repurposed Houses of Worship and Occult Practice


I’ve always been obsessed with places where people once prayed en masse that have since been put to different use. Whether they become homes or anything else, there is something so striking about a former church, Catholic school, synagogue, or any other holy place being reused by people for something other than worship. While they aren’t your typical houses of prayer, some of the great Masonic Lodges of the past have also found second lives. Last week, at Messy Nessy Chic, Rozena Crossman showed us one of the most unique examples of a former lodge being used for something else: a crazy, Borges-story-on-peyote psychedelic art house.

Via Messy Nessy Chic

The backstory of the building is impressive, and worth reading about — so much so that it got me searching the net for other buildings that, while maybe not so colorful, also have impressive spiritual backstories.

The Lamasery, New York City

Today it looks like another nondescript building among countless others in Manhattan, but from 1876 until 1878, it was the home of Madame Helena Blavatsky, the famed Russian noblewoman, spiritualist, and co-founder of the Theosophical Society. In what was once a center for occult practice in America, you can now live in one of the building’s overpriced apartments and walk downstairs if you’re ever in need of some cheaply made NYC gifts.

Via Fast Company

Churches in Amsterdam

With all the vices around, there isn’t much time to go to church in Amsterdam. Thankfully, some forward-thinking architects realized that all of those empty houses of God could be turned into houses filled with people going about their business. The results could rival any hip converted space in Manhattan.

Stickney House, Bull Valley, Illinois

Who knows how many seances George and Sylvia Stickney, devout practitioners of Spiritualism, held in this home, originally built before the Civil War? How many of the day’s leading mediums and other spiritualists tried to connect with spirits on the other side in this place that was designed to have no corners (Stickney believed that spirits required freedom to roam around without getting caught in them)? Possibly the center of the movement in the area in the middle of the 19th century, the supposedly haunted Stickney Mansion is now home to the village police department.

Via Atlas Obscura

Masonic Lodge at the Andaz Hotel, London

Masonic temples can have some interesting second lives, but this luxurious former lodge was built over, only to be rediscovered when a wall was torn down as the hotel’s interior was undergoing a makeover.

Grand Historic Venue, Baltimore

Notice a pattern here? One of the most stunning and opulent Masonic structures ever built is now a luxurious hotel.

The Church Brew Works, Pennsylvania

There is probably no brew more holy than the one being brewed up in this structure, a former Catholic church in Pittsburgh, dating back to 1878, where you can now get drunk off more than the communion wine.

Scolanova Synagogue, Italy

Technically re-repurposed, this medieval synagogue was built in the 13th century, confiscated by the church in 1380, then deconsecrated in 2006 and turned back into a synagogue.

Converted Church, Rotterdam

This monument to God, originally built in 1930, had fallen into disrepair and housed a garage for car repairs until it was turned into monument to Modernism in 2010.

Selexyz Dominicanen Bookstore, The Netherlands

If you’ve ever clicked any “most beautiful bookstores in the world” post, you’ve no doubt seen this gorgeous 700-year-old Dominican church, transformed into a house of literary worship by Merkx + Girod Architects.