The couple purchased the property in 2012 and started renovations late last summer. Nearly a year later, it looks a lot more like home.
“Originally I was looking at the church in Winterbourne and it was just so big that I was, like, ‘I can’t do this,’” Matt said. “And I looked at this, and I [thought] ‘it’s cute but it’s falling apart and nobody really saw the value in it.’”
Jacqueline wasn’t exactly sold on the idea from the get go, either. But Matt put up an offer after being tipped off that it was being put back on the market, and the bid was accepted. Now, looking at the open concept and high ceilings, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
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“I love my kitchen,” Jacqueline said. “I really like how it’s open and I was able to customize it.”
Matt always dreamed of buying a fixer-upper, and this sure fit the bill. What used to have two ceilings and ’80s-style paneling on the walls looks more like a modern loft, with large rustic windows.
It originally was built as a Mennonite church in 1888 and was turned into the Woolwich Township hall in 1939.
Matt did a lot of the demolition himself. His family works in the construction industry so they helped do some framing and drywall. From there, they hired local people they knew, including plumbers and electricians.
They started the demolition soon after purchasing the property, but had to take a break.
“We were planning on being done this over a year ago and we just got into problems with zoning,” Matt said.
The building’s makeover is extensive. They took it right back to the wood beams and brick. Because it wasn’t insulated they took out the floor, put in a concrete floor and heated it. From there it was spray foaming and framing.
“It was just a box,” Jacqueline said. “It was four walls and a dirt floor. Everything that you see in here beside the windows is brand new.”
They kept the wood that used to be attached to the ceiling beams and used it to make stairs to the second level. What’s left will be made into furniture.
While the couple had carte blanche on the inside, the building’s heritage designation put limits on any exterior changes. They have to keep the original wooden window frames, which must remain white. The township hall sign out front will stay, along with the white markings across the roof, the front door frame, and the white window ledges.
They’re building a shed out back and might build a garage later on if the township will allow it.
Jacqueline said where they used to live was very boxy and had low ceilings, which she disliked. Now they have lots of light and space.
“Just because of how big the windows are there’s so much natural light in here,” she said. “I really like that.”
The couple who grew up in Waterloo and Fergus actually decided to move to Conestogo in part because of the property.
“We’ve always liked the small town,” Jacqueline said. “The thing I love about Conestogo is it’s close enough to the city but it’s not the city.”
Matt notes they have the school down the street, two parks, and family close by to boot.
All that’s left for the inside renovations are framing the windows and doors and adding doorknobs.
“After that it’s just aesthetics,” Matt said. “After we’re done the inside we have to start working on the outside. There’s a lot of wood that needs to be replaced around the trim and some bricks need to be taken out and re-mortared.”