Light shines through the historic stained glass windows of Elim Lutheran Church, once covered by old plank boards and cobwebs, to unveil the Sault's latest Air Bed and Breakfast (Airbnb).
"The very first time I walked into the building, I could see exactly what we could do with it," Danna Sanderson of Sanderson Land Management said about the 117-year-old church. "It took another year before we actually bought it, and almost two more years to complete the project. But the end result is very similar to my original vision for this space."
She showed more than 100 lucky guests exactly what that vision entailed during a private open house yesterday evening: spacious master bedroom, upstairs loft, wide-open living space, dining room, kitchen, and laundry room.
No worries if you did not attend. A public open house is scheduled for Saturday, June 17, from 5 to 7 p.m.
Sanderson and her husband, Terry, are committed to buying and fixing up local distressed buildings to preserve the original historical elements making each property unique.
"We didn't actually change very much about the structure of the building, and only removed one wall during the entire renovation," Sanderson explained. "Mostly, we just worked with what was already there, and kept the architectural integrity of the space as much as possible. We tried to keep the existing elements intact wherever possible. We patched and repaired the original plaster walls, refinished the original maple flooring and kept as many of the original oak doors and as much of the oak trim as we could. The stained glass windows are all original to the space."
Over a period of 18 months, the Sanderson's poured hundreds upon hundreds of hours into renovations.
"We did as much of the work ourselves as we possibly could," she said. "We did hire a builder and his team, a plumber, an electrician, a historic stained glass expert, a local wood-worker, a flooring installer and a concrete specialist."
According to Sanderson, Elim Lutheran Church was built in 1906 by a Swedish Lutheran congregation. During the mid-1950s, Swedish and Finnish Lutheran worshippers merged, selling Elim to a Baptist congregation. Elim became known as Grace Baptist Church. It was sold to the Chippewa Theater Guild in 2008. The old church operated as a theatre before the Sanderson's purchased it in 2021.
After changing hands for multiple purposes through the years, a few interior changes were definitely in order.
"The aqua blue tub is the baptismal pool used by the Baptist congregation for full immersion baptism," Sanderson said. "It was a total surprise to use when we uncovered it, because the theatre group had built their stage right over the top of the pool."
This area is now the Airbnb's kitchen.
It took the Sanderson's approximately 18 months to renovate the old Elim Lutheran Church on at 700 Eureka Street into its modern day bed and breakfast look.
An Elim Lutheran Church public open house will be held on Saturday, June 17 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. All are invited to attend.