Let's See Those Places Enjoying a Second Life

All over the world, there are buildings and locations whose best days are in the past. And while many of these places are left to rot, many find a second life as something new, and far removed from their original purpose.

(Image: Cody Logan/Public Domain)

In Seattle, Washington a former coal gasification plant is now home to the Gas Works Park. Once responsible for converting coal into gas, the industrial park is now a public space for all to enjoy. If you happen to be in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania don’t miss the historic St. John the Baptist Church, which has been transformed into the Church Brew Works, a massive beer hall and brewery that has maintained the feel of dining inside a sanctuary. Or near the Estonian coast, a massive seaplane hanger, once utilized by the Soviet Army following World War II, now houses The Estonian Maritime Museum. After a decade of disputes, the Estonian government finally took control of the building, transforming it into an amazing museum. These are just a few of the places from around the world that were on their last leg before being born again. Now we would like to see your favorite places that have been given a new life!

In the thread below, tell us about some of your favorite places that are enjoying a second life. Where is it located? What was it in the past and what is it now? Is there a unique story behind this transformation, and why is it special to you? Be sure to include any pictures you might have as well. Your response may be included in an upcoming round-up article on Atlas Obscura.


My favorites are usually repurposed churches and industrial sites.

Industrial: Probably the top attraction in Monterrey, Mexico is Parque Fundidora (Foundry Park). Repurposed atop the terrains owned by a Steel and Iron Foundry, the many gardens separate several of the industrial buildings which now house galleries, shops, even a convention center. The centerpiece is Horno 3, the huge metal structure in the picture below. It was one of the main ovens of the foundry and it now houses a not particularly espectacular, but still entertaining light-and-sound show.
Horno 3… by Paco Espinoza, en Flickr

Plaza Loreto, in Mexico City, was once a paper factory and is now a mixed indoor-outdoor shopping mall. Most of my time in this mall has been spent at both its cinemas, either the large Cinemex multiplex or Cinemanía, the much-smaller art cinema.

For churches, even though I’m not a climber, I was fascinated by the concept behind Alien Rock, in Edinburgh, Scotland, since I first saw it. Using the high ceiling of the church for an indoor climbing center just makes perfect sense. It even has a sister climbing-church called Vertige Escalade in Quebec.


Love Plaza Loreto , its like about 15 minutes walk away from my granparents house , I remember when there used to be the art gallery there.

Also, the little cinema you mentioned which used to have a bar too. From memory I remember watching “Goya’s ghosts” and “Lust and Caution” there when they first came out , excellent little art cinema.


In the area where I live, a number of old churches have been turned into homes. I have always wanted to live in a church with stained glass windows. Imagine how beautiful that would be! One of the church/homes was open for a Christmastime house tour and I was able to see the interior. The sanctuary had been upstairs, so they removed all of the pews and turned it into a huge playroom for their children. The wood floors enabled them to roller skate and ride their skateboards safely inside. The ground floor had been classrooms and offices, so it was easily renovated into bedrooms, bathrooms, a kitchen, dining room and living room. So beautiful!


The Lorton, Virginia area turned a prison into an arts center with many small galleries, a lecture space, and more.


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I really enjoyed the High Line greenway park that was created in NYC out of the old elevated transit tracks. It allows you to see the city from a different perspective and feels like a short getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city below.


Former textile factories have a way of attracting artsy endeavors in Mexico. Fábrica La Aurora, in San Miguel de Allende is now something of an upscale mall with antique shops, designer boutiques and art galleries (and a cat).
10-08 San Miguel - 13 by haroc, en Flickr

Fabrica La Aurora-San Miguel Allende, Mexico by Rebeca Anchondo, en Flickr

In San Agustín Etla, the La Soledad Factory is now the San Agustín Arts Center, a combination gallery, workshops and art school.


One of the moat exciting repurposings I’ve ever seen (probably because I live here, but still) is the beautiful old Art Deco Sears Crosstown building, now the Crosstown Concourse, in Memphis. The original building was erected in 1927 as a warehouse, admin center, and Sears store. It didn’t close until 1994; I remember shopping there in the 1970s. After it did close, however, no one wanted anything to do with it – it was so huge that the idea of dealing with all its problems was frightening. But no one wanted to tear it down (except the usual consciousless developers) because it was still, in all its decay, a beautiful landmark in the Memphis Crosstown neighborhood. Finally, in 2010, a nonprofit organization was formed to develop what is now almost a city within a city. This single building now houses shops, restaurants, apartments, a school, a health center, a theater, an art center, and a community gathering place that is a joy to visit. About — Crosstown Concourse