An Architectural & Cultural Treasure

In taking action to preserve and repurpose an historically significant former church as a site for arts and community, Hermitage at Diamond is part of an international movement.  Across Michigan, the United States and the world, creative community members are saving church buildings from decay or demolition by turning them into thriving art centers.

Great examples of this movement can be found in 

  • Saving Places.org, which cites Crooked Tree Arts Center, a former United Methodist Church in Petoskey, Michigan
  • the Spaces.com, which highlights ten art galleries in resurrected churches around the world, including Woods Cathedral in Detroit
  • Sojourners (sojo.net), which profiles a pioneer in this movement, Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village.  As Judson’s senior minister says, “These buildings are treasures, not problems.”

Built in 1875 for the Third Reformed Church, Hermitage at Diamond was home to newly arrived Dutch Immigrants who made up the church’s congregation.  The price of a new masonry church was typically out of reach for these new Americans, so they often hired local architects to design impressive wood frame church with Queen Anne details.

Hermitage at Diamond is an excellent example of a very early frame church structure, according to Rhonda Baker, Historic Preservation Specialist for the City of Grand Rapids.  “We don’t have many of those in the state, much less the city,” Baker says.

From the exterior, Hermitage at Diamond is notable for its towering steeple and dozens of stained glass windows, including three large (10-foot diameter) rose windows.  Inside, it features a 460-seat former sanctuary and balcony with a soaring embossed tin ceiling that contributes to the unique acoustic properties of the space.  

Hermitage at Diamond is a multi-use complex including the large performance space, the former parsonage, a connector between the performance space and parsonage, a lower level with a large open space and commercial kitchen, and an attractive courtyard.

Learn more about the history of Hermitage at Diamond here.

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