Sk8 Liborius: Abandoned Church Gets Legit

No, this isn’t a level in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. St. Liborius is a real-life church in St. Louis, Missouri, that was converted into a fully operational skate park called Sk8 Liborius.

Fed up with the separation of church and skate, craftsman Dave Blum and skate park builder Bryan Bedwell spearheaded the project with divine results. 

Sk8 Liborius, their nonprofit skate park and youth outreach center, is the product of impactful work to build a “sanctuary for fringe artists and fringe skaters,” in the city of St. Louis. 

While you probably won’t catch the Pope dropping in anytime soon, these impressive renovations transformed an abandoned 130-year-old church into skater heaven. 

BMX rider jumping off a ramp at Sk8 Liborius
Professional BMX rider and X Games athlete Alex Landeros performs a lazy back seat grab trick in the church. (Image Source: Atlas Obscura)

Sk8 Liborius B.C.

Before Sk8 Liborius, there was St. Liborius Church. The German national parish was established in 1856 and finished construction in 1889.  The church was named after Liborius of Le Mans, the patron saint of a good death (what every skater hopes for).

In 1975, the church was declared a city landmark. But over the course of the century, the number of parishoners dwindled. St. Liborius officially closed in 1992. 

This towering, Gothic Revival building with spires piercing the sky eventually fell into ruin, with mold on the pulpit and mice in the pews. 

Vandals tore copper pipes out of the walls. Water damage left massive holes, cratering through the high-arching ceilings. Windows were blown out. The floors were rotting at the boards. 

Then, two angels appeared.

Exterior St. Liborius Church 
St. Liborius Church and buildings in St. Louis, MO. (Image Source: Atlas Obscura)

From Rags to Ramps

Co-owner of BLA Studios Dave Blum got his start as a craftsman. Specifically, he repurposed found objects and built custom items for St. Louis’ famed City Museum. At the time, his soon-to-be partnere Bryan Bedwell was running his Always Hard Concrete construction company as a skate park builder.

The pair joined forces in 2018 to create Sk8 Liborius. Together, the two hosted various events like underground concerts, plays and parties to raise funds for the construction project in the now not-so-abandoned church. Media quickly started covering their events. 

Volunteers, who worked for free skate time, helped clean out the decades-old debris and glided up and down the skate-church’s 11 by 40 foot vertical ramp. The whole building became a “giant piece of artwork” – a monument to shredding and togetherness. 

Sun shining through church windows onto a massive halfpipe in the center of Sk8 Liborius. 
Interior of St. Louis Church repurposed as a fully-functioning, idyllic skate park for the local community. (Image Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

What The Future Holds

The Sk8 Liborius nonprofit is proud of its involvement in the young local community, bringing together people of all races, genders and classes. According to Bedwell, half of the kids who have skated at the church are now welders, inspired by what they witnessed on that hallowed ground. 

While Sk8 Liborius is still very much a work-in-progress, the nonprofit plans to offer skills training that underserved communities don’t often have exposure to, including construction,arts and music. 

Blum and Bedwell hope to have the church-turned-skate park fully funded in the coming years so it can be completely open to the public. Sure, the goal is steep; their GoFundMe page has a goal of $500,000. But if you’re looking for something of a miracle, a church is a pretty good place to start. 

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