‘Tremendously exciting’: Community comes together to resurrect century-old church

SPOKANE, Wash. — A dilapidated century-old church is being resurrected in the Perry District.

Built in 1909, the church sits at the corner of East Hartson Avenue and South Arthur Street. The church started out as a German Baptist Church more than a hundred years ago. It then became the Arthur Street Baptist church and finally the Saint Matthews Baptist church. The space also played a central role for people to meet during the Civil Rights movement. It’s been vacant since 2006, but the new owners want to bring the church back to life while rebuilding and preserving its history.

“It has been an eyesore,” said Daniel Miller. He lives near the church and has always wanted to see someone step up and restore it.

A new owner is committed to the restoration.

“Hearing that this building that we had driven by for 6 years living here was available and that we might be able to acquire it was tremendously exciting,” said Father Carter Smith-Stepper. He took over the church and has been making small improvements for just over a year now.

The congregation is still pretty small, but Smith-Stepper has big plans in mind for the church. He says he wants to “try to restore it to the way it was in 1909 when they built it.”

He doesn’t just want the church to be for his congregation. He wants to make it a place everyone can be a part of, and neighbors have some suggestions.

“They just need to add a little coffee shop on the corner,” Miller said with a chuckle.

The corner church needs a lot of work like new carpet, better insulation and modern plumbing. The first goal, however, is to paint the exterior to get rid of all the chipping paint. A local paint store already donated all the paint to complete the project, but they’re still looking for donations and volunteers to help with the undertaking.

“We’re glad to see them do something with that historical building, finally,” Miller added.

If you want to learn more about the church’s history, click HERE.

You can also support the church’s rehab efforts HERE. The ultimate goal is to totally restore the space to what it looked like in 1909 so it could earn the status of a historic property in the Inland Northwest.

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