Audible, the audiobook company owned by Amazon, opened new offices on Friday in a restored historic cathedral in Newark. The company, which has been located in New Jersey’s largest city since 2007, restored an 80,000-square-foot 1913 church and modernized it with open workspace, a four-lane bowling alley, and cafes. Dubbed the Innovation Cathedral, the new offices on Washington Street will hold 400 employees.
Since Audible relocated to Newark more than ten years ago, its workforce has grown from 100 employees to more than 1,650. Audible CEO Don Katz described the new headquarters as a symbol of the company’s “commitment to the city for more than a decade.”
“We have defined ourselves by the strategic pursuit of what a successful company can mean in ways that transcend what it does—and today is proof that our efforts are yielding positive outcomes for business and invention culture, for the many talented people who want to work with us, and for the comeback of this great American city,” Katz said.
Built in 1933, the Cathedral was home to the Second Presbyterian Church, a congregation founded in 1811. After a decline in attendance, the church shuttered in 1995 and sat vacant until last week.
According to a report from 2016 by NJ Advance Media, the state’s Economic Development Authority approved a 10-year, $39.3 million grant for the project. Work on the space began in 2015.
The first floor looks like a typical office, with desks and computers neatly in a row. But preserved historic elements surround the space, including stained-glass windows and original organ pipes. The cellar serves as a cafeteria for employees and the church’s third floor boasts a library modeled after Boston’s public library, NJ Advance reported.
“Audible’s restoration of this historic landmark into a center of innovation and tech job creation – including jobs for Newarkers – is one powerful example of the over $4 billion in economic development occurring across the City today, but it is so much more,” Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka said in a statement.
“It is a symbol of preserving Newark’s history as we embrace our future, and emblematic of a company with a moral compass driving inclusive growth, elevating our students with educational tools and internships, and supporting the local economy by living local and buying local.”
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Photos courtesy of Audible