Jerry and Kristin Webster talk about the kitchen in their new home in an 1902 brick structure first built as a school and then used for decades for a meeting place of Old Order German Baptists. CONTRIBUTED

Local couple converts old school, church into their new home

“I had a lot of requirements, my wife not so many, but getting a combination of the two became impossible,” Jerry Webster said. “I said I gave up and put it in God’s hand, if it was meant to be.”

It apparently was.

One Sunday last year, Jerry Webster stopped by his auto shop in Troy between Sunday school and church and looked at Craigslist.

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“I had 15 minutes to kill, and there it was. It was three hours old,” he said of the listing of the church along Ohio 41 between Covington and Troy. The location fell within their search parameters, between Troy and Covington and in the Covington school district.

The structure was built as a school in 1902 and purchased by the church in 1934, remaining its home until a new one was built nearby.

The person who’d bought the structure from the Old Order German Baptist Church met Jerry Webster and then both Jerry and Kristin at the church the same day. A sale was in the works.

Within a couple of weeks, the Websters had a floor plan and permits.

Work on what would become known on Facebook as “the church project” began in September.

A final inspection was passed in early April through the Miami County Building Department.

In between, the Websters met a lot of people, learned a lot about construction and transformed what was once a one-room school and then church meeting room into their home.

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The church had no running water, sewage system or electricity, so systems including geothermal were installed and the building wired. The horse shed behind the building where church goers would leave their horses and buggies remains for storage or other future uses.

Inside the brick school that became a church, the Websters found one big open room on the first floor and a full basement.

“The church stuff was gone. The only thing left behind was a couple of hooks on the wall and a stove pipe,” Jerry Webster said.

The Websters didn’t have a single contractor, instead working with several friends to figure out challenges of converting the building into a home.

“Tons of people helped. It seemed like everybody that helped was squeezing me in, doing me a favor,” Jerry Webster said. “We struggled with brick and block. We had three different block guys who canceled.”

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This time, as in several others during the project, a friend or someone the Websters met connected them with those with the skills needed. There were Jerry’s sister and brother in law who had built a new home, a lumber company employee who went above and beyond and Jerry’s friend from the Joint Vocational School who was in construction and offered to help solve problems. Everyone who worked on the house was local.

“The weather wasn’t helping, either. It kept raining,” Kristin Webster said of project challenges.

The results include a huge open area that includes among others, space for the living room, kitchen and dining area, bedrooms with walk-in closets, an office, and plenty of storage. There’s also a new large garage.

“It’s amazing how every single thing all along has worked out. I am not saying it wasn’t stressful, but things fell into place,” Jerry Webster said. “I am completely blessed. It is just incredible.”

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