It’s been a little while since we checked in with the holy conversion on East Main Street and Shelby Street in Butchertown. Pip Pullen and Susan Swope have been working to transform the former Marcus Lindsey Memorial M.E. Church into just The Church and plan on calling the building home. I had a chance to tour the building on a late October afternoon with light pouring in from all sides and casting a warm glow on the construction scene inside.
The tour began with an inspection of the new color scheme being applied to the exterior of the building. Three subtle shades of taupe and brown are replacing the peeling white paint and were chosen to accentuate the depth of the masonry building facade. Walking around the structure, the new paint, uncovered stained glass windows, and repaired brick reveal an already noteworthy change to the 19th century building.
Inside, Pip Pullen explained how framed partitions still lacking drywall would create a condo dubbed the Sacristy. The most characteristic feature of the dwelling is the rich wooden paneling found throughout the Church. Operational wooden pull-down doors in the kitchen have been saved and will be restored and a master bedroom, bathroom, and dressing room all feature ornate woodwork. When complete, the unit will offer a modern kitchen combined with all the best details of the historic building.
Moving into the sanctuary, the afternoon light really came into full effect. Pip said the original plan was to create condos in this vast space, but because of its intense beauty, the current plan is to leave it open perhaps for offices or some other commercial use. The extremely tall vaulted ceiling and plentiful windows should make any tenant divinely happy.
Tucked in the back of the the building is a 900 square foot apartment that Pip said will be ready to rent by early next year. Each space in the development has a uniquely defining character. The Sacristy has its woodwork, the Sanctuary has its ceiling and windows, and this apartment features several original stone and brick walls that create a beautiful texture.
Finally, the tour reaches the space that Pip and Susan are building for themselves. The large unit is situated in the oldest portion of the Church and strives to bring the historic structure into harmony with a modern sensibility. Perhaps the most dramatic feature of Pip and Susan’s condo is a river running right through the middle of it. This modern element not only provides an unexpected detail in an old building, but helps to delineate the public and private spaces of the dwelling.
A grand living room will feature modern built-in furniture and a fireplace while glass walls will partition off a private home office. Upstairs, the master bedroom is perched between massive timber rafters that feel extremely strong when placed at eye level. Pip and Susan’s vision of their home has been focused by architect Jeff Rawlins of Architectural Artisans and is sure to be a show place when complete in December.
By now, the drywall has gone up as construction progresses and the spaces are undoubtedly looking more finished. A website is planned for The Church and Pip said it should go online soon. The development has already been a marketing wonder, though, and The Church has recently secured its own blend of coffee “intelligently designed” by Highland Coffee Company.