After two years on the market and a $100,000 price drop, the First Church of Christ is still looking for its next owner | local news
PITTSFIELD – After two years, the First Church of Christ in Pittsfield is still on the market. Sellers hope a drop in price could move the needle.
The church at 27 East St. was listed for sale in 2020 for $499,000 price is now $399,000.
Barb Hassan, the agent managing the sale, said the price had been reduced to reflect market realities and the figure was calculated using list prices for other churches and similar properties. The church has seen more potential buyers since the building’s price dropped, she said.
Hassan spoke on behalf of the church leadership, which did not respond to requests for comment.
Hassan said it’s not uncommon for larger properties to remain on the market. She cited a delay in showings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the difficulty of finding new approaches to using the space.
“Churches are one of those properties that, over time, become obsolete for other uses,” Hassan said.
While other churches in the area have been sold and converted into apartments, Hassan said that type of development is not likely with this property.
“The sanctuary just isn’t built in a way that could easily be converted into shelter,” Hassan said.
There are also historical considerations. The church is listed on the State Register of Historic Places and has several features that would need to remain intact after the sale.
Among the most notable are stained glass windows by American artist Louis Comfort Tiffany.
The building dates back to 1853, but the roots of the church go back further. References to the First Church of Christ in Pittsfield can be found as early as 1764, according to the church history page, when its founders used a small meetinghouse as a place for both prayer and local government business.
Eventually, in 1791, this small meeting house was replaced by a larger building designed by Charles Bulfinch, the renowned architect who would later contribute to the design of the US Capitol and the Massachusetts State House.
When this Pittsfield meetinghouse caught fire in 1851, the stone church that still stands high in Park Square was built in its place, completed in 1853 and assembled using local materials. It was built by Leopold Eidlitz, who, among other things, contributed to the design of the New York State Capitol Building.
In the two years since the building has been put up for sale, the congregation has continued to meet there for weekly services and to disperse at similar churches in the area, including South Congregational Church. Once it finally changes hands, the parishioners will move to another faith home.
While the church may not be convertible into anything else, historian Martin Langeveld, who has written extensively about Christ’s First Church, said he could see someone finding another use for it.
He speculated that the space could be used as an event venue, art gallery, or some sort of gathering space. But those ideas were just his opinions, and he’s curious to see what someone will eventually do with them.
“The whole thing has to be approached entrepreneurially,” said Langeveld.
Regardless, Langeveld hopes it goes to someone who takes good care of it.
“It would be good to find someone who recognizes the importance not just as a church but as a piece of architecture,” said Langeveld.