A number of readers have written in to report that Immanuel Lutheran Church has filed an application with the city to demolish its former sanctuary building on the corner of 15th St. and Cortlandt in the Heights. Since the 1932 brick building is in one of the Heights historic districts, demo applicants are required to request a certificate of appropriateness from the Houston Archeological and Historical Commission. The application will be voted on at the next HAHC meeting on October 22nd, but a denial from the HAHC won’t mean much: After waiting 90 days, the church can go ahead with the demo anyway.
Heights preservation ordnance Janice Evans-Davis, who’s sending out emails and posting on local bulletin boards about the property, toured it this morning:
This building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a contributing structure in the Houston Heights Historic District East. The church has no plans for the property once the building is gone. The stated reason for wanting to bulldoze is that they don’t think it is right to just let the building sit there and deteriorate. They have said the church does not have the money needed to renovate and make needed repairs.
According to an article in the Chronicle written at the time, church officials had plans to demolish the building 7 years ago:
After lobbying by a group of church members seeking to keep the facility, the ministry decided to suspend demolition for six weeks to seek written proposals for its future use.
Immanuel services are held at a newer church building next door, built in 1964. The older facility had been sparingly used since then and lately has not been used at all. . . .
Immanuel trustee Jaime Meave said the church is willing to keep the building open.
But, he added the cost to renovate the facility, estimated at about $600,000, is a concern to the church.
He said tearing it down alone would cost about $70,000, and some Heights Land Use Committee members said it’s not economical and suggested the church sell the building.
Others reminded him that if a new building is to be constructed, it will have to meet the city of Houston’s requirement for larger setback, resulting in a smaller building and more restricted parking.
- Immanuel Lutheran Church (1932) [Heights Blog]
- Immanuel Lutheran [HAIF]
- Groups fight to save old Heights church [Houston Chronicle]