Friday, May 1, 2020

Grant Neighborhood to Discuss Conversion of 1928 German Baptist Church

Most of the neighborhood associations have been on hiatus with the distancing and "stay home" requirements of the Pandemic. The Grant Neighborhood meeting is shifting to video conferencing this month.

Thursday the 7th, they'll be on Zoom - so get your bookshelf and background all arranged!

Evergreen Church building could be headed for change (2014)
On the agenda is an interesting proposal to convert the old Baptist Church, now operating as Evergreen Presbyterian, and itself at least the second church at that site, into apartments. (The even older wood German Baptist Church that preceded it is still near the neighborhood on a different lot I think.)

In the absence of more information it's hard to have an opinion about any transformation from church to apartments.

I am reading the word "conversion" to mean the building shell and structural elements would remain largely unchanged, and "live in a church" might be part of the sales and marketing appeal. As a concept for creative reuse it will have some merit.

But if it involves more demolition, it might just be a waste.

Nearly Complete, October 14th, 1928*
Designed by Lyle Bartholomew
The building, it turns out, is another of the brick buildings of Lyle Bartholomew. One of his, the old Leslie Junior High, has been in process of demolition lately, and it would be sad to lost another that still appears to be very functional. (Notes on Leslie here and here.)

It's also important to know if Evergreen Church is being displaced voluntarily or is being ejected.

I have sometimes thought the building would make a nice community center or restaurant. But apartments could be a good use also. (You may recall Northwest Hub started there in the basement of the church.)

The City's new Land Use Applications map didn't turn up anything active at the site, so this may still be in a preliminary conceptual stage.

At the moment this seems like a project worth having an open mind about.

The agenda items for the Portland Road apartment and Grant School landscaping removal might also be of interest.

* Full text of the newspaper article:
The First German Baptist church, Cottage and D streets, has been given the finishing touches this week and will be turned over to the building committee the first of next week. The church, built at a cost of $15,000 and with $1800 worth of new furnishings, is 44 feet by 6 feet and is two stories high. The structure was dedicated September 30.

Construction employed in the church is new to Salem. Face brick is bonded into a backing of hollow clay tile and the roof load is supported by brick piers. The face brick is light cream, with rusticated corner and the beads and sills are of light pink brick. The architecture is modern, with Gothic fenestrations in both entrance doors and windows.

The church auditorium and the balcony provide seating capacity for 600 people; the choir will seat 25 persons and the orchestra 20. Besides the auditorium, choir and orchestra, between which is the chancel with the baptistry back of this, other rooms on the main floor Include the robing rooms, the pastor's study and a room each for the orchestra and choir. Provision has been made in the plans for the future installation of a pipe organ.

The basement contains a general Sunday school room, which may also serve as a dining room, with a capacity of 350 persons; a primary room, three class rooms and a complete and modern kitchen with handy cupboard features and dish washing accommodations. In the basement are also the fireproof boiler room and toilet accommodations.

Other features of construction include:

Foundations and footing are of reinforced concrete and the main walls of brick and tile are 12 feet [inches?] thick.

The roof is a built-up fireproof roof. Heating is a direct steam system.

The ventilation system has been worked out with a system of adjustable louvers and air chamber under the roof, while the wiring, a conduit system, has been installed with pleasing results and guarantees a solf [soft?] illumination without shades.

According to pronouncements already made, the auditorium is acoustically perfect. This result was obtained by a covered ceiling.

The interior has been done in warm, inviting colors which blend from walls to ceiling and produce a delightful effect. Driftwood grey has been used in the study of the pastor, the Rev. G. W. Rutsch.

The edifice was designed and supervised by a Salem man, Lyle P. Bartholomew, graduate architect of the University of Oregon, and with the contractor, Fred A. Erixon. Mr. Bartholomew has received many favorable comments on the church.

Gustav Schuake is chairman of the building committee, the other members of which are: Don Schirman. H. Willecke, R. Perlick, H. Newman, Philip Lidke and the Rev. G. W. Rutsch.


Anonymous said...

There's either a discrepancy on the date or there's another event on Monday.

The NA also says it's a proposal for low-income housing.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Interesting. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for publishing this article. DevNW is planning low income apprtments - 14 to 17 including converting the church parsenage to an apartment and an office. To do this, they'll need to convert both lots to into multi-family and or commercial office. Unfortunately, the conversion of the church will not be seamless - with a 2nd story conversion they'll impact the widow openings. The 1890s house will also be impacted, but less so. They'll add a ramp and remove the historic porch.

Anonymous said...

Evergreen Church is seeking to purchase another church building in a different part of the city. They are selling this building for $700,000 and want cash to buy their next investment. Other congregations have been approached about buying this building but can't afford the steep price tag. Evergreen has been largely silent with neighbors about this project.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Thanks for the additional info!

Sarah Owens said...

Grant NA came out against the development because of the rezoning. Mayor Bennett and Councilor Kaser led City Council Monday night in preempting DevNW's application for rezoning by denying DevNW's staff-approved application for HOME funds. So much for Council's support for affordable housing in the downtown area! The denial of the HOME funds application was improper, as the use is permissible and the project as designed is contingent on the rezoning.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Though the formal letter from Grant NA is a little opaque, the personal letter from the land use chair (also spouse of the City Councilor) says

"We've even suggested changing the zone to RMl or even RM2, but have been countered with it will not "pencil" without Commercial Office. We, as neighbors, believe that Multi-Family zoning is much more congruent with the surrounding properties, Neighborhood, and City's Comprehensive Plan. We believe that it will also protect the residential aspect of our neighborhood."

Maybe this is procedural NIMBYism, but on the surface it looks like they do not object to the housing itself, but object to the Commercial Office zoning.

Do you know they and Council are opposed to the housing piece?

(But also: It is interesting to note also that DevNW is a successor entity to NEDCO, and they were responsible for the Sprout! food hub redevelopment of a former church in Springfield, which then was sold and now is a candidate for the most wonderful pub in Oregon, the Public House. NEDCO has seemed like a creative force and a group that had earned the benefit of the doubt.)

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

A PS - Maybe the fact the DevNW is likely to want to sell the project after they've finished it is at the center of the problem. The food hub didn't last; it was turned into a pub. If the site is zoned CO, then any apartments might not be very enduring. If that's at the heart of the Grant NA objection, it might deserve more explicit discussion and analysis.

Sarah Owens said...

NA and City Council say they are not opposed to the housing piece, but that's easy enough to say. The fact is, their actions, at a minimum, made this affordable housing development more difficult/expensive. The fact that HOME funds were going to go into the project would have required the housing remain affordable for 20 years minimum, so that's not a valid reason either.

Denying DevNW -- the first functioning CHDO (private nonprofit, community-based organization that has staff with the capacity to develop affordable housing for the community it serves) Salem's had in years -- HOME funds for an eligible project was short-sighted and ill-informed (Councilors' questions showed extreme ignorance about its federal programs.) It should have adopted the Con Plan amendment, allowed the HOME funds grant to go forward, and dealt with the zoning issue at the zoning stage. Stupid.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Thanks for the clarification. I had followed the zoning peripherally, but not the HOME funding side at all. As you say, that the HOME funds would require 20 years for the project really obviates a lot of the objection to the CO zoning. Huh.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

And in a post, "'Progressive' Council Snuffs Affordable Hsg Project," CANDO has a more lengthy critique, zeroing in a flawed process and exclusionary zoning practices at Council.