We believe that the Church doesn’t exist for itself, but to be a blessing to the city. Therefore, we don’t want to just take up space, but rather make Benson a better place!
When Citylight Benson launched as a brand new church and we purchased our current property from Benson Presbyterian in June of 2015 we found ourselves also inheriting an abandoned 4,300 square foot building on the north side of the alley. Within the first month, we received a generous purchase offer for this "North Building" (as we call it) that would have been financially advantageous. But we unanimously sensed that this building had the potential to play a big role in Benson's future.
One of the first local business owners that we met with after starting the church was John Larkin (Jake’s Cigar & Spirits, Beercade, St. Andrews, and Larkin Parkin). When we asked him what was lacking in Benson he quickly told us that there was a lack of affordable studio space for artists. This was confirmed as we talked to more community leaders such as Alex Jochim and Jamie Hardy (Benson First Friday Founders) and Ben Shafer (402 Arts Collective Founder). On March 7, 2016 we hosted a brainstorming session with over 25 leaders representing the local neighborhood association, schools, nonprofits, and businesses. It was through listening to these voices that the vision for the Community Arts Project was birthed.
The North Building was once a repair facility where trolley cars were serviced for the old line that once ran between Dundee and Benson. Later on the building became an auto repair shop. After Benson Presbyterian Church purchased the building they began using it in the 60’s and 70’s for youth groups and after school programs. The church did a deep clean of the building in the 90’s and used it to house a concert series of independent artists who were touring the country. This venue called “Common Grounds” hosted 8 to 12 shows per year and the proceeds from admission fees went to performers and various missions opportunities in the area. We applaud Benson Presbyterian Church’s past use of the North Building and hope to carry on what they started.