Former Church Buildings Find New Life as Homes, Businesses

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Jason Fitzpatrick has one primary requirement for his living arrangements: space, lots of it.

“I lived in an old gymnasium in Chicago, and that inspired me to buy a church,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’m a little claustrophobic, so I’ve always loved big spaces. The gym was 4,000 square feet, and I got addicted to large spaces.”

After a monthslong search in the Pittsburgh region, Fitzpatrick found that the former Holy Innocents Episcopal Church in Leechburg checked all the boxes. He and his husband, Thomas Murphy, bought it and its parsonage.

The couple relocated from Chicago in June and today operate the Old Parsonage Bed & Breakfast in downtown Leechburg.

“It’s a total dream to live in a church,” Fitzpatrick said. “We looked at churches for sale in Duquesne, McKeesport and a synagogue in New Castle. My whole goal was to buy a church or a bed and breakfast, and I found both.”

Former churches are ending up on the real estate market — and ultimately being repurposed as restaurants, wineries, residences and more — as congregations shrink and churches close.

According to a 2022 study by the Pew Research Center, 57% of Americans did not attend church or watch a religious service online. In a 2019 Gallup poll, 53% of participants said they did not belong to a church or synagogue.

At least 33 former religious buildings were on the real estate market in Pennsylvania as recently as this month, with 10 such buildings available in Allegheny County.

Listing agent Jake Vogel of Hanna Langholz Wilson Ellis said he has sold numerous former religious buildings in the Pittsburgh area over the past three years. He said he has seen a “steady amount” of former churches for sale around the region.

“These churches are really unique properties,” he

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