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Style · July 7, 2017

Former church becomes bright, welcoming home

Photo/Kathy Baumgartner
Kenny Shenk in 2015 rebuilds the bell tower, destroyed when the derecho dropped a tree on the building.
Photo/George Seitz for Va GenWeb
The church in 2008.
By Erin McCarty
Contributing Writer

The accountant had lived in Loudoun since 1982 — and in the same house for 19 years.

When that county’s growing population urged her to seek a more rural home, Kathy Baumgartner searched in Fauquier. What she found fulfilled a lifelong dream.

“On my bucket list had always been to live in either a converted church, schoolhouse or a barn.”

Ms. Baumgartner’s wish came true in 2014, when she purchased the former Westminster Presbyterian Church in Delaplane. Though already converted to a residence, the 2,050-square-foot building needed much work, including rewiring former office spaces, installing new flooring and stuccoing over the cinderblock exterior.

Prior to her purchase, the severe derecho storms in 2012 felled a tree, destroying the bell tower. She deemed rebuilding it important to the historical integrity of the building and sought the help of a local contractor, Kenneth Shenk.

“It’s got to be treated with its roots,” she told him.

Mr. Shenk, experienced in restoring local structures, rebuilt the tower using an old photo of the church as a guide. Ms. Baumgartner often rings the bell during gatherings with her neighbors.

The original frame church got built in 1898, but the concrete block structure replaced it in 1950. Classified as a “contributing structure” to the Crooked Run Valley Rural Historic District, the structure was home to two churches before its sale to a private owner. The church graveyard, which the owner maintains, conveyed with the property.

Today, the picturesque sanctuary sits atop a hill over the village of Delaplane, surrounded by old oak trees and a garden that Ms. Baumgartner created from a former parking area.

Sunlight pours through the many windows and double doors into her spacious home. The interior’s neutral color scheme creates a quiet, tranquil atmosphere — a nod to its former use as a church. She furnished the home through local antique dealers, the previous owners and her own belongings, including an heirloom sofa which her grandmother had custom made.

However, it’s not just her peaceful church home that keeps Ms. Baumgartner in the area. In the first two months she lived in the house, she spent more time with her neighbors here than she did in the 19 years she lived in Leesburg. Her parents, who recently purchased a home down the road, live with her while it gets remodeled. It is a special place for all of them.

“I don’t believe I will move anytime soon,” she says.

Home & Garden ideas
Please, share suggestions for stories about interesting Fauquier homes, remodeling projects, gardeners and gardens with Editor Lou Emerson. Email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call 540-270-1845.
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