MARNE, Mich. — A longstanding church in the Marne-Tallmadge Township area is one of the newest homes hitting the real estate market after it was completely renovated.
The altar and sanctuary on the main level was turned into a modernized kitchen and living area, as well as a master bedroom and dual-vanity bath – all boasting 20-foot ceilings.
Randy Charboneau, a broker for Independence Realty, said the church building is unique for its smaller size considering its proximity to Grand Rapids, though he gives credit to Kelly Fisher for making the transformation.
“I mean, every time you walk into one of her restoration projects, there's that ‘wow’ factor,” Charboneau said. “These types of properties are rare in the real estate business when you have this much character… We're standing in a circa 1899 building that has been completely restored and converted into a residential property. So, it's fun to be part of it.”
Fisher, the owner of Parrothead Properties, said she has renovated numerous older buildings in the West Michigan area. 13 ON YOUR SIDE caught up with her while she was working on an old fire department building in Grand Rapids near Cesar Chavez Avenue and MLK Jr. Street.
“I just loved that church. It's so beautiful and picturesque and Hallmark-esque, if you will,” Fisher said. “But it was so sad – that's the thing with these churches – it's just so sad to have them just sitting and abandoned … that's why I love those because I know I can restore them and make them beautiful and make them a home for a nice family.”
Staff at Tallmadge Township Hall, less than a mile away from the church-home at 1880 Leonard St. NW, were able to share old photographs and documentation. The building had previously been known as the Tallmadge Wesleyan Methodist Church and later, the 7th Day Church of God.
According to an excerpt in the magazine America in Britain in Autumn 2012, the Tallmadge Wesleyan Methodist Church got its start when a local teacher felt that her students needed to learn not only from schoolbooks, but also from the Bible.
“A committee was formed and the first donation for the church was a 'precious Christmas dollar' given by a Minnie Monroe. Not to be outdone was her brother Glen, who gave 10 cents. The Tallmadge Church was built on land purchased from James and Carrie Ellis for $1. It was officially dedicated on 18 May 1899.”
Going by the 1899 date, the building today is 123 years old.
Though upgraded with modern amenities, a feature still intact is the church bell right past the front door. Fisher said features like the original wood ceiling, which was hidden behind two other ceilings, give this home character.
Fisher was shown pictures of what appeared to be attendants in front of the church – a moment that left her “giddy.”
“I just love that – I think that's so great,” she said. “It'll be really, really nice to see a family in there – that's what I really intend when I do my houses. I see families there. So it's a good neighborhood. They'll be a nice place for a family.”
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