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Converted 1915 church satisfies body and soul

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Times Staff Writer

This was a run-down Catholic-turned-evangelical church in the small, citrus-growing town of Fillmore when graphic designer Mick Haggerty bought the property three days after the Northridge earthquake.

In the process of repairing the quake damage, Haggerty transformed the country church, built in 1915 as St. Francis of Assisi, into his residence.

“I always wanted to live in a church, because churches elevate the human spirit. They are peaceful and tranquil,” he said. “Not much architecture has these as goals.”

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To make the church his home, however, he had to make some changes. Now the altar space is a dining area, the sacristy is a bathroom with a claw-foot tub, the choir loft is a mezzanine with a spare bedroom and a workout area, leading to the bell tower with mountain and valley views. And the nave is the light-filled, cavernous main room of the home.

It has been 10 years since Haggerty converted the Colonial-style church, a place he hadn’t thought he would leave. Then, almost two years ago, he got married and a year or so later found a larger home in Topanga Canyon.

It’s a shorter ride to work now for Haggerty, but he doesn’t complain about his old commute. As art director at Warner Music, designing album covers and posters, he drove there and back every weekday. It’s about a 46-mile drive from Fillmore to Burbank. “But part of it is a pretty road,” he said, “and the freeway is an open drive after 9 a.m.”

About this house: It isn’t the only old building in the community. The local theater, a city treasure, was built in 1916. It too was damaged during the 1994 Northridge earthquake, but it was refurbished and now shows first-run movies seven days a week.

Asking price: $925,000

Size: The home includes a former Sunday school building, now used as a studio with a shower and a kitchen, and a onetime priest’s house, which Haggerty has rented out while using part of it as an office.

The size of the former church is about 2,500 square feet, including the mezzanine.

Features: There are two bedrooms, a kitchen and a laundry in the former church, which also has two gardens, one of which has a pond and a pine tree.

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Where: This home is in Fillmore, 25 miles northeast of Ventura.

Listing agent: Barry Sloane, Sotheby’s International Realty, Beverly Hills, (310) 786-1844. The home will be open today from 2 to 5 p.m. at 458 Central Ave., Fillmore.

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