So many beautiful churches across Ontario are being transformed into homes
Fewer people attend church these days, and with detached residential properties more scarce than ever across much of Ontario, some buyers are turning to beautifully-converted houses of worship for homes.
It is not surprising that people are finding vacant churches to renovate. Church attendance has dropped dramatically in Canada over the past few decades.
In 1985, 90 per cent of people aged 15 and older reported having a religious affiliation, compared with 68 per cent in 2019, according to Statistics Canada. And the proportion of people who attended group religious activities at least once a month nearly halved, from 43 per cent in 1985 to 23 per cent in 2019.
One of the largest denominations in Canada, the United Church, has seen members dwindle from a peak of 1.1 million in 1961 to 388,363 members in 2018.
While some feared the historic brick churches would be demolished and, rightly so, worried about the loss of community spaces, many people have found that the structures can make unique living spaces.
Churches usually come with high ceilings, which give a feeling of openness. An 1887 church rural Amaranth, not far from Orangeville, had an open concept main floor with original windows and cathedral ceilings. This church was listed for under $800,000.
That building served the community as Waldemar Presbyterian Church for over 100 years, according to Dufferin County historic records. It sold in 1995 and was later converted into a home.
A church in rural Port Hope had similar charms with tons of space and listed for even less at $499,000. Another nearby church, which used to be Bensfort Church, a Methodist (and later United) church was completed in 1883.
It was converted into a three-bedroom home with many of the historic features, and went up for sale at just under $700,000.
The former Gilmour United Church, near Bancroft, was built in 1952 and decommissioned in 1978. Listed for just $329,000, the owner bought it in 1982 and has used it as a home and music retreat.
A church for sale in Ethel, near Stratford, was the Ethel United Church, built in 1877 then moved and "reimagined" in 1917. The owners kept massive windows for a bright primary bedroom. This place was listed for just under $600,000.
Of course, if you want to buy a church in Toronto, they tend to be much larger and more expensive. A church at 503 Eglinton Avenue, with space for more than 100 people, was for sale for $3.75 million earlier this year.
Many of these churches are converted into multi-unit dwellings, which also come up for sale occasionally.
If you want to move farther from Toronto, there was recently a two-storey, 1912 church up for sale at $250,000 west of Ottawa. The outside of this church is rustic and simple but the inside was completely renovated into a two-bedroom home.
Blown insulation was added to this church in 2012 along with the main floor addition. The insulation and good heating systems are likely important for most of these churches, as the old structures may be cold in the winter.
In fact, a lot of work goes into making these churches into comfortable homes, as was the case with one property for sale in Meaford, near Owen Sound, recently.
This church was once the Woodford United Church, constructed in 1905, and the owner meticulously converted and renovated the church with attention to detail. The work put into it is reflected in the price: it was listed for just over $1 million.
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