Sept. 4, 2006

New life for Howard Lake church building

By Samantha Schommer
Staff Intern

A lifelong dream can be many different things to many different people – a trip across the world for one person, meeting a certain someone for another.

But for Julee Taylor, 36, her lifelong dream was to own and renovate a place to call home.

For the last four months, she has been doing just that to the old Blessed Hope church building in Howard Lake.

“Ever since I was a little girl, it’s been my dream to fix up an old barn or something,” Taylor said.

The Michigan native has lived across the country in places such as California and Washington, D.C., but after seeing the church for sale on the Internet, she knew that Howard Lake was where she was meant to be.

“I like that it’s a small town and there’s actually a Howard Lake lake. I missed the seasons and the smalltown people,” Taylor said, “ Everybody is friendly and nice. It’s such a wonderful atmosphere.”

The architect/general contractor has made plans to turn the old church into a house.

“The outside will still be a church, but the inside will be a modern house,” said Taylor.

Everything was gutted from the inside, and a new roof has been installed.

Right now, Taylor and her crew are working on mudding and sheetrocking inside the church.

“It’s a gem, an absolute gem,” she said.

The 134-year-old church is in great condition, according to Taylor.

“The wood is in excellent condition. The church is just amazing,” said Taylor.

The church was built in 1874 to 1875, according to Taylor, and the basement was put in around the 1940s.

The church originally had about 169 acres, but eventually, the acres were sold to the City of Howard Lake.

There has also been several names that the church has gone by, according to the research done by Taylor, including Christian Church, Christ Church, and, most recently, Blessed Hope.

Taylor is excited for the completion of the renovation, stating, “I’m getting sick of the commute from the cities. I’m looking forward to staying in one place.”

Over the last four months, she has been living in St. Paul, and coming to Howard Lake daily to work on the church.

“All I do is sweep. It’s the amazing guys at Southpoint Construction who have done all the work. I can hardly take credit,” Taylor said.

This is her first home, and first personal renovation experience. Taylor has a goal to be completed with the project by Oct. 1.

If her plans get side-tracked, she still hopes to be eating Thanksgiving dinner in her new home.

“I will be in there for Thanksgiving dinner. I’ll cook a turkey out on the grill, if I have to, but I will be in my house,” Taylor said determinedly.

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