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Turning a church into a court

While courts ponder the entanglements of church and state in both the Episcopal property dispute (now before the Supreme Court of Virginia) and a tax-supported church-apartment building in Arlington County (expected be considered by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals), in Colonial Heights, city leaders are exploring the idea of putting their courts into a church.

To be specific, the city is weighing which architect to use to draw up plans for converting the old Colonial Heights Baptist Church into a new courthouse for the city, according to The Progress-Index.

It’s a proposal that’s been kicked around for years. Seems the city bought the property in 2005 and leased it for use by the church for two and a half years. After the church moved out, citizens objected to a plan to demolish the church. “Use it for a courthouse,” they said.

Local judges apparently supported the plan, hoping for relief from cramped quarters in their existing facility. Relief will not be quick, however. If the city decides to move forward with renovation, the timetable does not contemplate a ribbon cutting until 2013.

By Peter Vieth

One comment

  1. I have not been inside the Colonial Heights Baptist Church, but the picture of the outside does look “courthousy.” I have seen some architects do some good remodeling jobs changing an old Safeway grocery store into a General District courthouse or changing an old Kann’s Department Store into a law school.

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