A church as a home
The 136-year-old building of the Marienkirche in the Seekirche was sold to a Catholic with Luxembourg roots who wants to convert it into a house and sell it to someone who wants to live like him.
This isn’t the first time Daniel Majewski, a Big Bend real estate agent and licensed contractor, has bought a church and turned it into a home. He, his wife Allyson, and their two dogs live in the 4,400 square foot Big Bend Baptist Church.
Majewski had been looking for another church in the Milwaukee area, and when his real estate company listed St. Mary’s, he immediately contacted the agent and visited the church that day before deciding to buy it.
Majewski has cleaned up the former church, which closed in August 2018 due to the shortage of priests, and the logistics of converting the 5,400 square foot building on a 1.5 acre lot at 6098 Lake Church Rd. Into a home.
Three church bells and a school bell have already been removed thanks to the bells of St. Mary’s, a parish group formed to save the bells after parishioners who are now members of the Divine Redeemer parish at the nearby Holy Cross became angry , the bells could be sent to a mission in Africa. Many wanted to save the bells, believing the church was not properly worshiped when it closed three years ago. A bell monument is planned for the adjacent Marienfriedhof.
Majewski said he had a former parishioner removed the last piece of bells, a brick cladding for the school bell, to be used at the memorial.
Former parishioners are allowed to dismantle the pews and altars for the next three weekends – Majewski has included the clause in his offer.
“You can enter the building as long as it’s mine,” he said. âIn this way, I’m trying to give back to the community and the Church, not just tear everything down and throw it away,â he said.
In his home, Majewski uses one of the old Big Bend Baptist benches as a dining room table.
What to do with St. Mary’s stained glass windows is a different story. Majewski’s house has 3 by 2 meter stained glass windows with floral patterns that are divided in the middle. He took out the lower portions, valued at $ 1,000 to $ 1,200 each, and donated them to Big Bend Village.
St. Mary’s has four 5 by 12 foot windows depicting Mary and Jesus, which Majewski said are each worth tens of thousands of dollars. Maejewski is willing to have it removed, but does not pay for the work.
In the worst case, he said, the windows will stay and he will paint the cladding black so that it slams against the white walls of the church. He has blackout curtains in case people don’t want to keep looking at Jesus on the cross.
Majewski plans to implement the coveted conceptual design in-house.
He will build a 12 foot high wall 80 feet long – the length of the room – into the 3,200 square foot sanctuary, leaving 2,000 square feet for the kitchen, living room, and dining room areas.
The altar has three steps that are 17 inches high nine feet from the wall.
It’s the best place for a living room with an L-shaped couch and ottoman, Majewski said. An 85-inch television can hang near the altar, “and it looks small on that wall,” he said.
Other interior improvements include a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system – the church ran on a boiler system and has no air conditioning, he said. Larger ceiling fans will also be installed.
Despite the fact that his large house has 17-foot ceilings, the insulation helped bring his winter heating bills down to an average of less than $ 200 a month, according to Majewski.
âWe insulated the attic a lot more. I literally had to get bats out of the bell tower, âsaid Majewski.
Outwardly, Majewski wants to adapt the color of the paintwork and maintain the appearance of the building.
âEverything will look the same from the outside,â he said.
The farm will look different, however. The parking lot will be converted into a topsoil and grass yard, and a three car garage and hill system will be added.
Majewski will do some of the work himself in the spring and hopes to be able to bring the building to market in six to eight months. It took four months to move into his house.
With his two dogs, he wants to drive the one-hour drive from Big Bend to the city of Belgium four days a week. It’s going to be a busy spring as Majewski’s first child is born in seven weeks and he trains pole vault at West Allis Nathan Hale High School.
Last week, Majewski received a positive recommendation from the Belgian city planning commission to convert the building’s land from a park and recreation area to a residential area. The city council is due to act on this matter on November 1st.