Since 1979, the Nightown club entertained young adults, including Eric and Darlene Partin. Now as pastors of Shoreline Church, their dream was to turn Nightown into a place that changes people's perception of church. Teaming with LIVE Design Group, their dream became a reality.
WFM Staff · September 26, 2017
Imagine a stage fenced with party goers consumed by blues legends and hip-hop artists.
Since 1979, Nightown Club in Destin, Florida hosted famous performers, including BB King, the Ramones and Ludacris. In recent years, the club grew into a place of despair and an eyesore to the community. In 2016, Pastors Eric and Darlene Partin brought the fun and music back to life, transforming Nightown into Shoreline Church.
Like most young adult locals in the 80s, the Partins frequented Nightown to dance or see a performance. After the last show, Shoreline purchased the 16,000 square foot rundown property. Previously, Shoreline Church worshiped in a movie theater and Fort Walton Beach shopping center with 1,000 weekly attendees.
The Nightown location would unite both congregations in a central location. They planned to embrace the history of the building to create a diverse, welcoming environment for people who were uneasy about visiting a church.
“Our goal is to create a pressure-free environment where they can follow God at their own pace,” said Eric. “We want to change people’s perception of God, and we try to do that by changing people’s perception of church.” Shoreline Church hired LIVE Design Group to help transform the nightclub into a vibrant worship and education space for their growing congregation. During a ten-hour LIVE Session in the Partin’s living room, the LIVE Design team and the Shoreline Church team worked together on a design concept to restore the existing building. The primary goal was to preserve the industrial design of the original building structure, while introducing eclectic décor items found at local flea markets and antique outlets.
This approach saved money and conserved the open, nightclub look. Eric often described his vision as the “House of Blues,” during the Session. The LIVE Session gave the church freedom to interact with the design and communicate their ideas, while they watched the Shoreline vision came to life. “They never tried to tell us why we couldn’t do something,” said Darlene Partin. “Instead, they helped us solve problems so we could achieve the end goal. When you walk through Shoreline, it’s unbelievable how close it looks and feels the way it did in the LIVE Session.”
While the appearance has changed, many of the Nightown elements serve a similar purpose today. The exposed brick walls, original platform and mezzanine embody the memories from the past. The two-level worship space holds 420 people with the main floor seating 320 people featuring sightlines to the original Nightown platform. The balcony is a comfortable area with casual seating groups of sofas, banquettes and café tables with a direct view of the stage below.
Darlene believes one of the most unique objects in the worship room is a bright blue adult slide connecting the balcony to the main floor. “A local McDonald’s owner completely understood and purchased a custom adult slide for us,” said Darlene. “It has become a favorite first stop for many people (not just kids) when they walk into the building, because it’s refreshing and fun.”
In a back corner of the worship room stands the original barbershop. Shoreline Church offers free grooming services for people in need and hosts fundraising events, such as their recent Cut-A-Thon to raise money for the community. In addition to the worship room and barbershop on the first floor, the pre-show performance venue became a place for Shoreline’s children and youth. The rooms were designed with a residential, at-home feel to serve the church’s young growing families.
A collection of vinyl records found in Nightown’s attic cascade from the wall of the children’s auditorium. Each mahogany door has been re-purposed as a table, bar or check in station. The Partins wanted to use Nightown memorabilia found in the attic as conversation pieces. The barstools and chandeliers covered in grime were cleaned and restored into art. An original elevator door on the first floor serves as a tricky illusion. Once the “up” button is pushed, the light above indicates the elevator is coming down from the fifth floor.
However, when the elevator mysteriously returns to the fifth floor leaving people puzzled. There isn’t a wall the Partins left out. In the men’s room on the toilet partition, the lyrics, “For Prayer, Call Jenny, 867-5309,” from the 1980s hit by Tommy Tutone. The church’s café, The Flying Pig, was named from the Partins frequently hearing that Nightown would become a church when pigs fly. The Shoreline Church design is truly a representation of its mission: “To change people’s perception of God by changing their perception of church.”
“Because of Live Design, we achieved above and beyond what we had imagined,” said Darlene Partin. “Our church vision is to restore the church to front and center relevance in our everyday lives in our community. We are so thankful for Live Design and their mission to make our dreams come true and for our church culture to shine in our community.”
Through the teamwork in the LIVE Design Process, the Shoreline Church team and LIVE Design project team created an affordable, unique and resourceful design to help Shoreline transform the existing Nightown Club into their new church home.