Downtown Phoenix is Home to a New Event Venue: Introducing Abbey on Monroe

Abbey on Monroe will officially open in May 2024. Photo courtesy of Heather Certo

The Phoenix First Baptist Church broke ground in 1883 in the heart of downtown Phoenix on 3rd Avenue and Monroe Street. It officially opened in 1930 and, over the next 38 years, saw minimal renovations from its original striking Italian Gothic style. Its architecture was so striking, in fact, that it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

Unfortunately, the church caught fire several years later and suffered severe damage. The wooden structures, interior woodwork, plaster ceilings, and Spanish-style roof were destroyed. The walls and concrete floors survived, but the historic building was left in ruins. The City of Phoenix declared it a hazard, and plans were made for demolition until the early 90s when a business called the Housing Opportunity Center rallied around the building, saving it and renaming it Monroe Street Abbey.

Two decades later, in 2019, an investment group led by former Phoenix Mayor and Attorney General Terry Goddard began a significant renovation to rebuild the Abbey and turn it into a multi-use space for the community. Goddard wanted to preserve as much of the original building as possible while adding modern elements like updated restrooms, doors, windows, an elevator and a full-service catering kitchen. Electrical and plumbing were also added to the list.

The iconic rose window, the bell tower, the front entrance, arched windows, and the columns on the north side of the building were left alone. Other than stabilizing pieces, much of the original brick was untouched. The church underwent the final phase of renovation when BTS Event Management and a catering business called Fresh from the Kitchen (FFTK) became partners and tenants in October 2023. In May 2024, Abbey on Monroe will officially open for business.

The venue’s restoration finished this year, preserving much of the original building while adding modern amenities. Photo courtesy of Heather Certo

“This is a one-of-a-kind building with timeless architecture and modern amenities that offers the community a premier event space and an opportunity for other businesses (like a restaurant and a speakeasy) to operate in a unique setting,” BTS Project Manager Heather Certo said. “We won’t replace the roof; if the day calls for rain, we have the ballroom as a backup plan!”

Though the Abbey can accommodate various events, one of its biggest draws is as a wedding venue. BTS Events will offer packages that include the space – and there are three: the courtyard, the overlook balcony, and the ballroom – along with in-house catering menus and services.

Abbey on Monroe offers three different spaces that can accommodate up to 260 guests. Photo courtesy of Heather Certo

FFTK will handle the food (including cake or dessert options), beverages, and bar area. Its menus offer passed appetizers or grazing tables, as well as food stations, buffets, or plated sit-down dinners.

Fresh from the Kitchen offers various event menus, including appetizers, dinner and dessert. Photo: Noelle Townsley

“I am looking forward to the events that will be uniquely curated in the space and bring new life to it. I can’t wait to see the photos from each event and see love celebrated in such an iconic, historic venue,” FFTK Owner Noelle Townsley said.

Because the Abbey Rose window is one of the venue’s focal points, Townsley and her team created a signature drink for events: a dark rose espresso martini crafted with a nitro machine.

“We have great connections for lights, rentals, and décor, but couples can bring in their own vendor teams if they prefer,” Certo said. “We’ve had an incredible emotional response from the community. So many people have been waiting forever for this remarkable building to be brought back to life. And those experiencing the space for the first time are in awe.”

The Abbey also hosts a public tour each month – upcoming dates are April 17 and May 15. For more information, visit or on Instagram @abbey.on.monroe.

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