Clarendon Baptist Church had a pretty sketchy start. Built in 1868 in Boston's South End district, the church was deemed “spiritually dead” by some locals. Its pews were rented, church attendance was low, and there was no sense of unity within the congregation.

But all that changed when a pastor named Adoniram Judson Gordon took over the church a year later. With his exuberance and passionate sermons, Gordon transformed the church—designed by noted Northeast architect S.J.F. Thayer—into one of the most dynamic and spiritual churches in the nation.

Gordon served as the church's pastor for more than a quarter of a century. He essentially paved the way for the historic church's success in the future.

But in 1982, Clarendon church was hit hard by a devastating fire. Only the building's exterior shell was left standing. Despite the damage, the church was destined for another shot at life—albeit a different kind of life. Boston-based architectural firm Finegold Alexander + Associates, known for its adaptive reuse of significant buildings and historic preservation, took the badly mangled church under its wing.

The firm restored the property's exterior walls but kept the building's original character. A new steel frame was constructed within the shell for extra support. Even though the building still resembles a church, it now sports a new identity: The property was renamed 2 Clarendon Square and is now a converted seven-story residential building with 60 condominium units—a mix of studios and one- and two-bedroom floor plans—and 13 indoor parking spaces.

Abby Garcia Telleria is a freelance writer in Costa Mesa, Calif.