Landmark Mount Vernon church going up for auction

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The New Refuge Deliverance Cathedral photographed from above. Credit: A.J. Billig & Co. Auctioneers

New Refuge Deliverance Cathedral at 1110 St. Paul St., in the Mount Vernon historic district, is hitting the auction block next month.

A.J. Billig & Co. Auctioneers has set July 6 as the date for online bidding to begin on the church, and it held an open house today for prospective bidders to tour the property.

The auction comes several weeks after the June 5 death of the church’s founder and longtime senior pastor, Archbishop Naomi DuRant.

According to auctioneer Charles Billig, the auction is a voluntary sale on behalf of the church leadership. He said the 750-seat church has been listed with RE/MAX Commercial Logic for more than a year and Billig is working with the broker to find a buyer.

The bidding ends on July 10 at noon and the congregation is eager to complete a sale, Billig said. “The church is very realistic about the price.”

The stone church, a Gothic-style building with Romanesque traces, was designed by E. Francis Baldwin and Bruce Price. Constructed between 1870 and 1872, it contains 16,338 square feet of space, according to tax records. It was originally known as Christ Protestant Episcopal Church and later as just Christ Church. New Refuge acquired it in 1994, after Christ Church ceased operations.

The building has been surrounded by scaffolding since 2013, when neighbors noticed that shingles were falling off the roof.

The Baltimore City housing department erected the scaffolding to protect pedestrians. It also sent notices to the church to repair the exterior and bring the building in compliance with city codes and standards set for the Mount Vernon-Belvedere historic district, but exterior repairs were never completed.

In late 2018, the church agreed to put the property up for sale. An attorney working with the church, Gary Brooks, told members of the Mount Vernon Belvedere Association that the church members couldn’t afford to repair the building to satisfy code violation notices and decided to sell it and use the proceeds to buy another property that is more manageable.

Billig said the auction represents a new effort by church leaders to complete a sale. He said the simplest solution would be for another church group to purchase the building, leave it intact and continue to use it for religious services. It also could be recycled for other uses, including work space or housing.

“There are a lot of things people could do with it,” he said. Buyers with a “creative sensibility would do well with this.”

The church is being sold in “as is” condition. Billig said his office will have another open house on July 9 at 4 p.m., one day before bidding ends, and the property is also being shown by appointment. The suggested opening bid is $350,000.

Ed Gunts


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