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Old church gets new life as event space, skate park

READ MORE: Old church gets new life as event space, skate park

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Wilmington is home to many historic buildings and churches, but only one also morphs into a skate park. The Brooklyn Arts Center is 123 years old and was brought back to life earlier this year. It seems the space has something for everyone, including skateboarders.

"It's really crazy because usually our skate parks are outside in the streets, but this is in an old church,” skateboarder Austin Yu said. “It's pretty cool."

Yu said he loves skateboarding and is always trying to find ways to improve his skills. He skated at the Brooklyn Arts Center for the first time Saturday in a trick competition put on by the center's nonprofit skate organization, the 1888 Skate Club, named after the year the original Saint Andrews Presbyterian Church was built.

The building is no longer a church, but skater mom Julie Dorwart says she's thrilled it's now sometimes a skate park.

"I'd rather have them do it here than street skate because it's a lot safer,” Dorwart said. “It's indoors, it's very clean. It's very well supervised, and it's great exercise for the kids. We love it."

"Air conditioning in the summer. Heat in the winter,” Brooklyn Arts Center Executive Director Richard Leder said. “It's street-skating indoors, supervised and great."

Leder says the history is what sets this venue apart. He said the space is great for any type of event, including weddings, galas, concerts and skate competitions.

"It's different. I'm not used to seeing everything looking so old,” skateboarder Gary Bolos said. “It's kind of weird skating in a church, I guess."

Bolos is a Brooklyn Arts Center first-timer and said he's impressed with the variety of obstacles. For some who feel the skateboarding may be a bit rough for the historic site, Leder said not to worry.

"It's a concrete floor, and we had custom built obstacles for them, so they're not ruining anything,” Leder said. “They're being great kids and having a ball."

"The competition was really good, and we did a lot of skateboarding,” Yu said. “I've never been here. This is my first time, but I had a really good time, and there was a lot of really good obstacles and stuff."

The 1888 Skate Club plans to host monthly skateboarding events.

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