The conversion of the former church building into a spacious and functional home took place over a six-year period. Primary goals were the retention of all extant historic material as well as the aesthetically sensitive incorporation of required modifications (kitchen, bathrooms, heat/air).
Too many historic interiors have been crudely marred by "boxed-in" ductwork; no such flaws are to be found here. The original design lent itself well to residential conversion and only modest changes were made to the floor plan of the main level.
The lower level originally contained a large kitchen, coal room and sprawling "octopus" furnace. The furnace was removed which allowed for the creation of a larger stair hall. The coal room became a bedroom (the plank wall is a remnant of the room's former use) while the kitchen was reconfigured to become two bedrooms and a sub-hall.
The large multi-purpose room beneath the sanctuary required extensive cosmetic work to restore the 1950's renovation in which the beautiful knotty pine paneling was added.
All of the stained glass windows had been removed by a previous owner decades ago; persistence over the course of five years led to the acquisition and re-installation of the ones present today. Remaining window openings (formerly infilled with plywood) were fitted with clear glass. The present mix of stained and clear glass is a comfortable one which is viewed as an aspect of the building's continuing history.
The kitchen area, originally utilized as compartmentalized Sunday school class areas, is distinguished by large tambour doors which roll into overhead pockets. The kitchen was designed carefully so as to not interfere with their operation. Similarly, the pair of larger tambour doors between the living and dining rooms allow for flexibility of appearance and function. The stove niche has been plumbed for gas in addition to the 220 wiring.
Great care was taken to follow the existing aesthetic in regard to woodwork and cabinetry in order to create a cohesive environment. All cabinetry and millwork was custom designed and built using salvaged antique pine and fir to match existing, original, wood finishes.
When built, the sanctuary (now living room) floor sloped gently in theater style toward the pulpit. During renovations made in the 1970's the floor was leveled with 3/4" tongue-and-groove plywood. As a result, the living area is elevated by one step. This floor has been painted and awaits the next owner's choice of floor covering.
In 1978 an addition was built within a corner at the rear of the church to provide handicapped-accessible restrooms. The addition was gutted and transformed into a master bedroom which showcases what had originally been exterior brick walls. Today the room features a skylight and wood-burning stove. Adjacent to the stove is a door which opens to a small, private, deck. The deck provides access to both the back yard and a sidewalk leading to Commercial Street.
The master bathroom was created from what had been the pastor's office originally. Space was borrowed from the sanctuary for creation of the barrel-vaulted shower stall beneath the staircase landing. Lack of space between the arch and the landing floor made conventional recessed lighting an impossibility; a playful solution emerged when a set of 1960's vintage shower doors was obtained and set into the end walls for use as a light source.
The original restrooms were on the lower level and quite small. They were connected by incorporating a section of the hallway to create a single spacious bathroom.
The house contains approximately 5,200 square feet of living space in a residential area of tree-lined streets within walking distance of downtown Oberlin. Two new furnaces and air conditioning units allow for zoned heating and cooling. The large spaces containing the Living Room and Recreation Room can be independently heated and/or cooled from the rest of the house. Off-street parking is plentiful along York Avenue; there is ample room in the yard north of the house to build a garage if desired in the future. The house sits on three residential lots which together roughly measure 72' x 125' (9,000 square feet).
Due to its versatile design and physical location, the house would lend itself well to many types of home businesses. The original tambour partitions allow for screening of the south half (living room) from the north half of the house on the main level. The south half has its own towered entry on Commercial Street, just a block from downtown Oberlin. Similarly, the Recreation Room (below the Living Room) may be separated from the living quarters by a door. This area, too, has direct access to the corner of York Avenue and Commercial Street by way of a concrete stairwell. The spaciousness of both rooms offers numerous possibilities for the entrepreneur.