new owner -
It was a historic church, but it had become a blight in the Seminole Heights community in Tampa.
Now the Praise Cathedral on N. Florida Avenue is being demolished.
"It's terrible," says Pastor Pat Hall to ABC Action News as she watched heavy machinery begin to tear down the walls.
The building was constructed in 1923, first serving for decades as a theater. When the theater closed in the 1970's, the Praise Cathedral church took over and eventually purchased the building.
Pastor Hall tells ABC Action News that hundreds of people used to attend Sunday services, which continued until last year when a drunk driver drove into the already-decrepit building.
"When the man ran into the building, the Code Enforcement came out the next day, put a sign on it saying we couldn't have church anymore," says Pastor Hall of the July 2015 incident. "So it was devastating. It grieved my heart because we helped so many people every Sunday."
Hall would bring in left over food and pastries from Publix and bring them to the Sunday services for the local homeless population. She also helped to provide people with free shoes and clothes.
"It was just devastating for us," says Hall. "We were always having church, every Sunday. All we did our whole life is help people."
According to the City of Tampa, Hall recently sold the property, and the new owners decided to take the old building down, beginning demolition on Thursday. N. Florida Avenue in Seminole Heights has become an attractive site for businesses and renovations over the past few years.
Hall tells ABC Action News she had a fund going but not nearly enough to cover the repairs. The new owner's purchase actually saves the city from having to do the demolition themselves, which would have cost upwards of $50,000.