PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s known for its rock music in a small venue.
“I hear that the Altar Bar is the loudest club in the U.S. Is that true?” Michael Sweet of Stryper shouted to the crowd Thursday night.READ MORE: Neighbors Want Liquor Control Board To Take Action Against Bar In Carnegie
Loud or not, Altar Bar in the Strip District is about to return to its original roots as a church.
“We’re very excited about the possibility of seeing the church reclaimed even back to a space for worship and ministry,” the Rev. Kurt Bjorklund told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Friday.
Bjorklund, senior pastor of Orchard Hill, says his church is buying Altar Bar, formerly St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, to expand its downtown ministry now located in the August Wilson Center.
“We also think it will be a great worship venue, especially with all the development that’s coming to the Strip, all the people that will be moving there in the years ahead, to have a church option like this right in that community and accessible really to the whole city,” added Bjorklund.
Some remnants of a church are there like beautiful stained glass windows, even a steeple although without a cross, but work is clearly needed to return it as worship space.
No word yet on when Orchard Hill will reopen the Altar Bar as a church, but the hope is it will happen sometime this Fall.
In the meantime, Altar Bar closes July 31st, with previously booked bands moved to the Rex Theater on the South Side .READ MORE: 2 Allegheny County Lawmakers Introduce Plan To Allow Legal Recreational Marijuana Use In State
“I’m not going to lie. It’s sad to see this place closing. There’s lots of memories that we’ve had here,” says John Belan.
Belan, lead singer in Gene the Werewolf, was setting up on Friday for their final performance at Altar Bar.
“This is one of my favorite places to play in Pittsburgh,” says Belan.
Orchard Hill is a mega-church with lots of contemporary music, so it seemed right to ask.
Delano: “Would you be willing to perform for them here?”
Belan: “Well, I wouldn’t turn it down if they asked.”
Bjorklund says the church wants to become very much part of the Strip.MORE NEWS: Allegheny County Council Approves Plan To Spent Nearly $100 Million From American Rescue Plan
“One of our hopes is that people will go to the Strip, have breakfast, and then go check out a service at was once the Altar Bar and will be Orchard Hill in the Strip District,” added Bjorklund.