It has been almost exactly 2 years since we were handed the keys to this very special piece of Indiana history.
I had passed little Mt. Ebal church probably a thousand times, often admiring it’s simple charm. I’d even peeked in the windows once, feeling a little sad at the emptiness of it. The church had not held regular services in at least 40 years. A local man had kept it up for the last 20 years or so, renting it out for the occasional small event. Then one day I drove by and saw a “For Sale” sign. It was then that I began to dream. I began to see those huge windows and vast hardwood floors as the perfect backdrop to the studio of my dreams. My husband Corey and I talked for hours, days and weeks about it. Did we have the time, energy and money to put into this? The poor 140 year old building was showing it’s age and there was much to be done before it could be used as a photography studio. My mother had passed away right before the church came up for sale. I kept thinking “What would Mom say?”. Then I realized, she would say “It’s your dream, right? So do it!”. And so we did.
Little did we know that acquiring the church and repairing it would not be the most difficult obstacles we would face. To operate a business on the site required petitioning the county zoning board, countless meetings, hearings, money and paperwork. The county also required us to complete extensive landscape plantings which were not in the original plan. About a year after we started the process, we won the right to start doing business and breathing new life into this amazing historic building.
One of the first things we had to do was have part of the flooring repaired.
Next, we had to remove the modern patio out front. It had been installed by the previous owners without permission from the historical group who holds an easement on the property. Since the patio was modern in style and wouldn’t have historically been there, it had to go.
Our daughter LOVED the power tools.
The patio had actually been causing water damage to the front of the building, so we had to hire someone to fix that.
Back in the 1870s, people weren’t so worried about energy efficiency. We decided to have insulation blown into the walls. This left over 200 holes which needed to be patched. In this picture, you can also see the peeling paint which required LOTS and LOTS of scraping and sanding. Worse than the walls was the ceiling. Standing high on a ladder and trying to scrape the ceiling was quite frightening to say the least.
Shortly after acquiring the building, we realized that the windows were leaking. Each individual pane had to be removed, scraped, and re-glazed. One day while I was out there scraping, the old woman from down the road stopped her car. She is in her 80s, I believe. She walked over and said “girl, I’ve always been proud to say I’m the hardest working woman on Mt. Ebal road, but I’ve got to say, I think you deserve that title.”. That completely made my day.
There were many days when I would be out there working and I would get honks, thumbs up and happy smiles from passers-by. Quite a few stopped to say how happy they were that we were doing something with the place.
Next up was painting. My daughter was a big help in this department. And no, she never ever wears shoes.
Immediately following the painting came the floor refinishing. Anyone who’s done this knows what a joy it is……not.
Next up was removal of a fence – another thing that had been installed without permission from the historical group.
Those posts were set in concrete. I even broke a shovel!
…and the landscaping.
Ever the DIY-er, I painted my own sign. My logo is my signature after all, so it seemed fitting to paint it with my own hand.
Tada!! I cannot thank my husband Corey and my dad, Jerry, enough. Without their help, this dream would not have ever come to fruition.
Up next, pictures of the finished inside!