When people say they "raised their children in the church," you might assume religious practices were a priority. But the owners of this property on East Main Street in Ventura literally raised their family in a former church.
Known as the Southern Methodist Episcopal Church when it was built in 1888 — during Grover Cleveland's first term as president — the Victorian Gothic structure has been through several incarnations: as a single-family home, a wedding chapel, a wellness center and, most recently, a bed and breakfast.
The former sanctuary functions as a high-ceilinged living room, and the altar is now a dining area. Five en suite bedrooms were carved out of space once used for such purposes as a choir loft; an Asian-inspired bedroom with a large stained-glass window occupies the area where sopranos and tenors once rehearsed.
The foyer is open 96 feet up to the top of the braided-wood steeple. Original features include the decorative windows, gingerbread roofline details and the pulpit.
The basement level, a later addition, is where the sellers brought up their teenagers. There's an industrial-type kitchen, and the additional space could be used for a movie theater, a game room or separate living quarters.
The property also includes a small gabled cottage. That gothic-detailed Victorian dates to the same period as the church and has one bedroom and one bathroom.
Altogether in the two structures, there are 11 bedrooms and seven bathrooms within 5,307 square feet of living space.
Potential buyers have looked at the venerable building with an eye toward creating a recording studio, a winery tasting room or a rehab center, listing agent Emilia Ramirez said.
Because of its historic-landmark status, the church's exterior can't be altered. The interior, however, can be modified.
The property is listed at $1.799 million with Ramirez and Justin Seale-Carlisle of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties.
"The owner's request is not to just sell, but to hand the baton off to the rightful new owner," Ramirez said. "It's a piece of history."
This occasional feature celebrates Southern California's architectural heritage through homes built before 1950.
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