Saturday, July 24, 2021

Steeplejack Brewing: A Home Run for Preservation

 In a little over one year, a historic Northeast Portland church at risk of demolition has been transformed into a beautiful and creative example of architectural preservation providing an active new use. 

Starting July 31, the former Metropolitan Community Church (the fourth denomination during the building’s 112-year history) will open its doors as Steeplejack Brewing, offering food, many kinds of beer and an excellent architectural experience.  (We wrote about the history of this building earlier at

Both the interior and exterior have been restored, faithfully respecting the shingle-style architecture of the period.  The interior is bright, cheerful, and infused with light from stained-glass windows.  Inside, the original sanctuary remains as the main seating area, as well as side-rooms that can accommodate smaller parties as desired.

The idea for this masterful renovation came from Steeplejack partners Brody Day and Dustin Harder.  Architectural expertise was provided by Rebecca Morello of Open Concept Architecture.  From here, the story is best told by photographs.

Exterior work included a new roof, painting, replacement of rotting shingles and recreation of badly-deteriorated eave brackets.  "We thought of leaving the brackets off, but we knew it wouldn't look right," Day said. 

Looking to the west.

Inside, the original trusses dominate the room.  The floor has been refinished and much of the original woodwork has been retained.  Tables and benches were crafted from the church's wooden pews.

Looking toward the east, Brody Day has a lot to smile about

David Schlicker, a retired Portland stained glass expert, created 12 new stained glass windows that proceed around the top of the original apse.

Here is one of four smaller rooms available for parties seeking seating together.  One room has sliding doors that close.  Another has a fooseball game and large TV screens, presumably for the sports crowd.

Steeplejack was the name given to workmen who clambered up to erect and maintain tall steeples and chimneys.  Here, the steeple has been braced with steel tie rods and left open for public view.  (Climbing up is NOT encouraged.)

We finish with an "in process" image.  All shingles under the big western gable had to be replaced.  The new roof is on and the new eave brackets have been installed. Painting has been completed on the north side.  Protective lenses have been applied over the stained glass windows. 

You can see the beer and food menu at  However, regardless of one's proclivities for consuming beer, a visit to Steeplejack Brewing is a worthy experience just to enjoy its architecture inside and out.

---Fred Leeson

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