Architects draft ideas to renovate 1929 Phoenix First Baptist Church

PHOENIX - Right in the heart of the hustle and bustle of downtown Phoenix sits a majestic ruin: Phoenix's historic First Baptist Church.

On the outside it appears to be in great shape, but looks are deceiving. One you walk inside you realize it's just a shell.

"This was finished in 1929, just before the depression. It was a big church; 1,400 or more people were here for services. It was designed for chorale singing and mass choirs," said Terry Goddard, former Arizona Attorney General and the self-proclaimed protector of the church.

After 40 glorious years, hymns were silenced as the congregation packed up and moved out, leaving the structure abandoned. To make matters worse, on a cold February day in 1984 tragedy struck the church: a fire broke out inside the sanctuary. The fire continued to burn for two days, causing the roof to collapse.

Although the charred remains act as a scar of it's dark days, the ruins give off a romantic and charming vibe making the future still very bright.

It was former congregation members and a few notable names that have seen the charming potential contained within the church and halted the demolition.

For the past 20 years, this 40,000-square-foot building has transformed into an open-air sanctuary for thousands of birds and nearly 50,000 honey bees who've made camp within the old rose windows. However, a few local architects have drafted plans to renovate the old building.

For the main sanctuary, architects envision a beautiful garden amongst the angelic ruins or an open-air concert venue beneath the starry Arizona sky.

The hallways are dark and tattered, but there are dozens of abandoned rooms that have the potential to be renovated into office space, high-end residential living or even the addition of a black box theater. These are just a couple ideas that have been suggested.

Deep within the basement sits an abandoned boiler, however, could you imagine turning it into a giant pizza oven?

From urban living, to luscious gardens to a lively entertainment venue, local architects are rejoicing over the potential for this palatial property.

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