Culture minister Tõnis Lukas (Isamaa) has presented a plan for a Narva church, which would include options for holding concerts there as well as other events, worship services and exhibitions.
The church, the Alexander Church in Narva, erected in the 1880s, was joint purchased by the state and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Estonia (EELK) in June 2016, but renovation work has become a priority, not least due to reports of a danger of falling masonry from the church's ceiling.
One survey put the renovation work at at least €2.5 million, with over €680,00 more for safety features and another half a million or so for a potential underground extension, ERR reports; Lukas proposed an amount to the government which would be finalized in the autumn in conjunction with the interior ministry – which actually owns the building – with final discussions around that time.
One aspect of the proposals includes a 500+ seat concert area to rival other concert halls in Narva and nearby Jõhvi, making use of the building's acoustics and octagonal layout (something which authorities had noticed as early as the 1980s).
Renovation seemed to stall, though with the transfer of ownership to the state in 2016, the list of potential uses, whether serious or not, continued to propagate, with hotel and startup incubator being among them.
Nonetheless, the dilapidated state of the building as is has prompted the Rescue Board (Päästeamet) to block its use for anything like that, a line confirmed by other experts including those from the Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech).
The domed ceiling has recently been used for film-projected exhibitions, however, and the building's exterior is in better shape, having been restored in the 200s. The building had seen extensive damage during the Battle of Narva towards the end of World War Two.
Ongoing maintenance costs come to around €700 per month, which is covered by the congregation as well as Narva city.
An auxiliary building is also planned.
The church was deemed to be a "cathedral" by president Lennart Meri in the 2000s, but properly speaking it does not have cathedral status.
Last year population minister Riina Solman (Isamaa) said some emergency funds would likely be drawn from the Ownership Reform Reserve Fund, often used for religious buildings, to shore up masonry in danger of falling on to anyone below.
Editor: Andrew Whyte