Constructed in the 1940’s, The Old Church building was initially developed as - unsurprisingly - a church. The passage of time, and a change of many hands, gave the building a colorful history. It once served as a hobby shop and then became an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting center. Its last tenant was the highly lauded American sculptor, Douglas Clark, who had converted the building into a studio and residence.
And then it was empty once again. After 8 years, the building was slated to become another casualty of urban growth - it was to be torn down and converted into a parking lot.
Dilapidated, and seemingly at the end of its journey, the verdict had been solemn and definitive - tear it down. That was of course until McAllen Chamber of Commerce fatefully intervened.
Where others saw a desolated old church, Steve Ahlenius, President of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, saw the potential to provide the City of McAllen a unique venue. So was birthed the idea of The Old Church.
Now, after an investment of $195,000, McAllen Chamber of Commerce has beautifully renovated the Old Church and given it a new life. Bright picture windows, rustic wood doors and cedar accents, an exceptional sound system, a freshly restored floor, brand new air conditioning units, and upgrades to bring it to code, a building nearly forgotten to time is to be the catalyst of a new era.
The Old Church will contribute significantly to the opportunities for cultural, community, and business activities in the area, for many years to come.
The Old Church in McAllen is the first of its kind in the region and offers guests a truly unique experience
More Than Urban Development
Heart of the City
The Heart of the City is so much more than just buildings and businesses. It’s more than an economic development initiative. It is living history. Our downtown draws on the past yet celebrates the growth of our community.
Home to the dynamic Art District, Historic District, the celebrated Archer Park, a thriving downtown, and an electrifying Entertainment District, the spirit of McAllen truly lies in the Heart of the City. With more than two dozen art galleries, a 30,000 square foot Tuscan-style retail facility that houses studios and creative firms, speciality restaurants, the Casa de Palmas Renaissance Hotel, the McA2 Creative Incubator, and a bevy of specific features and destinations that continue to be a significant tourism draw, the Heart of the City offers both residents and visitors a sense of community identity, culture, place, and belonging.
As the third building to be repurposed by the Chamber, with the first and second iteration of the Creative Incubator taking the first two spots, The Old Church in McAllen is set to contribute significantly to the opportunities for cultural, leisure, community, and business activities that the area offers.
The McAllen Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to identifying new and creative initiatives to continue the prosperous and robust growth of the downtown. With visitors and locals contributing hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy, innovative redevelopment projects like the Old Church in McAllen will have a ripple effect impacting, everything from quality of life to jobs to tourism. There is definitely new blood in the Heart of the City and McAllen is now more alive than ever.