Did somebody order a pew? Saint John climbing gym holds uncommon sale

·2 min read
The Church of St. John the Baptist in Saint John is being turned into a climbing gym. The pews have been put up for sale. (Mrinali Anchan/CBC  - image credit)
The Church of St. John the Baptist in Saint John is being turned into a climbing gym. The pews have been put up for sale. (Mrinali Anchan/CBC - image credit)

It's not every day that church pews are put up for sale.

But the new owners of the Church of St. John the Baptist in Saint John are selling off the benches to make space for their new climbing facility.

David Alston, co-owner of Climb 1884, said "a lot of the … former parishioners want to have, like, a piece of history because they went to the church."

The pews have sentimental value for some parishioners and they are keen to take them home, given the church is 137 years old.

Mrinali Anchan/CBC
Mrinali Anchan/CBC

"They may have sat there for 30 years in that same pew, so to be able to come in ... potentially purchase that pew and say, 'That's part of our history, we sat [in them] once a week' ... is neat," said Alston.

Mrinali Anchan/CBC
Mrinali Anchan/CBC

Price of a pew

A pew is not exactly a standard purchase. Alston is selling them from between $120 to $200, depending on the size.

Alston said the price can depend on the market and the condition of the pews. He has seen some go for as high as $500 in places in Toronto, where they are harder to find and the demand is much higher.

Any pews that don't sell will be used in renovating the space.

"We have some ideas of how we can use some of the beautiful wood," said Alston, who might use them as part of a possible café or maybe in the changing rooms. "They're made of ash and cherry so some of the wood can be repurposed.

"They're church pews so they're [not meant] to be sat in for too long, but they are beautiful from that perspective."

Listen: David Alston speaks with the CBC's Khalil Akhtar on selling the pews

Chad Sooley, vice-president of the Saint John Trojans Rugby Club, stopped by to pick up some pre-ordered pews.

"We're actually in the process of starting to build a community building.... It's going to be held for club functions," Sooley said.

"These have been around for 100 years. They're still standing the test of time so we figure it's something that we can put into our community centre and it'll add value."

Half the proceeds of the sale will go to non-profit Ascent New Brunswick, which builds outdoor climbing routes.

The sale ended Saturday afternoon, but Alston said interest from public may have them making more pews available.

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