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Church salvage sale includes pews, stained glass windows

ST. PETERSBURG

While downtown's historic former First Baptist Church awaits partial demolition, one of its stained glass windows is destined to live on in someone's home. Another will illuminate a North Carolina garden. A few will remain with the church's facade, which is not being razed, but many more will find new homes.

St. Peter's Episcopal Cathedral, which owns the old church, is holding a salvage sale Thursday that will include the former Baptist sanctuary's pews, tiles and unique stained glass windows. For obvious reasons, beams and bricks from the 1924 neoclassical revival church will not be available until after demolition. The yellow brick is not for sale but will be recycled into St. Peter's City Peace Garden planned for the site.

Inquiries about the salvage sale are coming from far and near, said Sheree Graves, St. Peter's warden. There is particular interest from St. Peter's parishioners and those who once worshiped in the former Baptist church at 120 Fourth St. N.

"In our experience, individuals who are buying these remnants and relics are people who are interested in historic preservation and people who buy just for the beauty,'' said Jesse White, owner of Sarasota Architectural Salvage, which is handling the sale.

Those thinking about picking up a stained glass window should be prepared to plunk down around $1,000 to $1,800. There are 80 windows. Close to two dozen pews will fetch a more moderate $350 each.

The stained glass windows are unique, White said.

"It's a very interesting style. The glass is a very thick glass, almost an inch thick, and it's fashioned in the Dalle de Verre method. Basically, whereas traditional stained glass uses leading to keep the glass together, this uses a grout-like material. It produces very brilliant colors in the sunlight,'' he said.

Since the windows have no religious imagery, they lend themselves to a variety of settings, White added.

The windows — specially removed from the church by Alafia Architectural Antiques of Lithia — are on display in a storefront at 173 Fourth Ave. NE. The display has attracted a lot of attention and led to early sales, White said.

For shoppers with a smaller budget, Thursday's sale will also offer tiles from the church's basement at $25 each. They come with a fleur-de-lis pattern.

The sale is a one-day event in St. Petersburg. Anything that remains, along with the bricks, beams and other items that will be available after the demolition, will be offered nationally through White's Sarasota shop. A certificate of authenticity will be presented with each sale.

Proceeds from the sale will help St. Peter's develop its City Peace Garden, which will incorporate the columned facade of the old church. The project is a harmonious end to what had been a long-standing battle between the cathedral and preservationists.

Attempts by St. Peter's to sell the old Baptist church had fallen through over the years and efforts to raze it to make room for new development were bitterly opposed by preservationists. Last year the two sides agreed that St. Peter's could save just the facade.

The facade will be transformed into a columbarium and its grounds, open to the public, will include a garden, fountain, gazebo and a small section for cremated pets. Offices and historical records of the former Baptist church will be housed in the basement, while columbarium niches will be placed on the ground floor and mezzanine levels.

The City Peace Garden will be an addition to St. Peter's current $7.5 million expansion and redevelopment project.

Preservationists had asked the cathedral to make a professional archival record of the historic church. Graves said architects are putting together drawings and written and photographic documentation of the building.

The package, which will include floor plans, an architectural description of the building and black and white negatives of its interior and exterior, is being prepared according to a format established by the historic documentation program of the National Parks Department's Historic American Buildings Survey. The documents will be stored in the Library of Congress.

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at wmoore@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2283.

IF you go

A time to buy

Former First Baptist Church salvage sale, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, 173 Fourth Ave. NE, St. Petersburg. The event is free, but entry will be first-come, first-served. Call (941) 362-0803. Refreshments, beer and wine will be served.

Church salvage sale includes pews, stained glass windows 06/23/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 23, 2009 4:04pm]
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