Historic church, school renovated and ready - Republic-Times | News

Historic church, school renovated and ready

By on July 11, 2018 at 3:05 pm

Pictured is the inside of the renovated former St. Paul Lutheran Church in Columbia. (Kermit Constantine photo)

Nearly a decade ago, St. Paul Lutheran Church in Columbia member Alberta Spradling attended a church meeting that would impact her life for years.

She and her husband had recently moved here from Tennessee and joined the church. At that fateful meeting, members discussed the old church building at 114 W. Liberty Street that first housed the congregation. 

Spradling’s ears perked up. Later, she and her husband visited the old church building and saw it was dilapidated. 

“When we walked in here there was nothing but toilets, lawn mowers and trash,” said Spradling, who lives in Smithton. “The windows were mostly all boarded up because they were busted. It was a disaster.”

The building also had no lighting and no walls. 

Pictured, Alberta Spradling stands inside the historic Columbia church she has helped renovate. (Kermit Constantine photo)

Seeing the decrepit church provoked a response in Spradling that would lead her to take on a project that would take almost a decade to complete. 

“I cried all the way home,” she recalled. “This church had been donated for God, and now look at it. So, we both looked at it and decided we were going to restore God’s house and we won’t stop until His house is restored.” 

pradling, who has led the renovation effort, started work on the church in 2009 and finished it in 2010. The building was re-dedicated in 2011, but Spradling could not open its doors to the public because it did not have a bathroom.

So, in 2010, she began work on renovating the neighboring schoolhouse.

It was in even worse condition than the church, but in 2017 she completed that project.

Now that the renovation is finished, these buildings are available for people to rent for weddings, receptions, parties and other such events. 

To get the buildings ready for the public, new floor joists, windows, roofs and furniture had to be installed. The buildings also required extensive cleaning, with five truckloads of garbage being hauled away from the church alone. 

All the work and furnishings were either donated or paid for through such fundraising efforts as trivia nights. 

The buildings now have authentic antique furniture, new appliances, new plants, new lights and more. They are also air conditioned and heated. 

“We’ve come a long way,” Spradling said. “God has been very good. We’ve had so many people who have helped. It’s a godsend.”

The church was erected in 1854, while the schoolhouse was built in 1870. Both buildings have gone unused for more than 70 years. 

The church and schoolhouse are registered historic landmarks. 

St. Paul Lutheran Church still owns both buildings. The church’s current place of worship is at 227 Goodhaven Drive.

As much as possible, Spradling said she strove to keep the buildings similar to how they would have been in their heyday. The pews in the church, for example, were old ones that had been stored in the schoolhouse. 

For those interested in renting the buildings, the church has a maximum capacity of 60 people, while the schoolhouse has a max of 40. 

The schoolhouse has a handicap accessible bathroom and a fully furnished kitchen. 

Only street parking is available.

“It would be ideal for just a small group of people,” Spradling said of the venues. “It would be a charming little place almost like your home.” 

The buildings will cost $100 a day each to rent, not including a security deposit.

She said the cost will allow the buildings to be self-sustaining without having to rely on the church’s coffers to pay the bills. 

“All we’re looking for is to have enough funds come in and pay for the heating, cooling and the water,” Spradling explained. “We’re not in it for a big profit. We just want people to say ‘hey, there’s a cute little place over there, you’ve got to go.’”

Spradling said the buildings will also be available for non-profits to use for meetings. The cost will be adjusted for those depending on the circumstances. 

There is no alcohol or smoking permitted at either building.

To reserve either building, call 618-281-7264, 636-279-5199 or 618-277-1319. 

James Moss