Springfield is debating whether or not to purchase the Old First Church in Court Square downtown, as a dwindling congregation has forced it's sale.
Those in the debate might consider looking directly across the Connecticut river. There, in West Springfield, is another church. It's probably from about the same era, though not as ornate. It has however recently undergone a private sale of it's own...
This 19th century church in West Springfield was rapidly falling to ruin just a couple years ago.
Then maybe a year or two ago, as I occasionally passed by, I noticed people milling about it more and more often. Trucks parked outside. People pointing and gesturing to each other. At first I assumed it was being readied for demolition, it looked so far gone. But no. As the weeks rolled by, the doors were opened to people with tools and equipment, walking in and out, doing this and that. Scaffolding going up. Paint began being scraped, new paint being applied. It soon became apparent that this stately old church would survive.
They did a fine job. The restoration took 100 years off the outside appearance. At least from the street. Great to see it not go to waste I thought. Then a short time later, I noticed this small, simple black and white sign, sitting out front:
The Rotary Records. The old church had been sold, and transformed into a recording and sound design studio! Well, halle-freakin-lujah.
They have a website: http://www.rotaryrecords.com/home.asp
The website has some interesting pictures of the renovations they've done inside, and they did a lot. It looks like a very professional recording studio. No trace of the old church to be seen in the pictures. There are 23 foot high ceilings (imagine the acoustics) on the 2nd floor recording area. The 1st floor has been transformed into a five room apartment for traveling clients to stay.
The pictures appear to show sound-proofing panels on the walls, like the kind you'd see in a typical recording studio. But still, imagine cranking up the amp, stomping on the overdrive pedal, and wailing on your electric guitar...in a church? How about the drums?!? There's just something deliciously sacrilegious about the whole thing. Something very rock and roll. Someone's going to hell for this.
Right outside, on two sides of the church, there is an old cemetery.
I don't want to, but I have to say it; who'll be the first to play loud enough, to wake the dead?
So, just something for the good people of Springfield to consider as they debate public or private ownership of the Old First Church; be careful what ye wish for...