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RE AL E STATE


This Old Church House — Celebrating 100 Years


One Eagle family transforms their historic home that once served as an academy, a church and a preschool. Even though the building is a private residence now, the stage and ample seating in the living room ear marks it for fun community gatherings.


By Emily Fonnesbeck PHOTOS BY


Brett Saffery


In 2010, the old Seventh Day Adventist Church on the corner of Floating Feather and Ballantyne had seen better days. Starting as an academy in 1912, its other uses have included a church, a school, and then for many later years, a preschool. Small updates here and there kept the house function- ing, but after the preschool closed its doors and the bank took over, the structure waited patiently for new life.


About that time, an ambitious couple from Califor- nia was looking for a change. Dustin and Stephanie Simpson had moved to the Boise area in 2004, but like so many others, felt the heat of the recession. After making the decision to sell their home on the river, they looked for a fixer-upper. What they found was “This Old Church House.”


When they first looked at the church, there were re- mains of preschool days, including little toilets, cracked and damaged walls and dingy carpet. Steph- anie was not impressed. “I thought, no way, you’re crazy,” she later recalls. But after a week or two, her


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mind was changed, and the Simpson family, includ- ing twins Ethan and Ellie, dove head-first into living in an ever-changing construction zone.


Dustin, who was a general contractor, saw a lot of potential in the 3,300 square foot structure. The first step was to install a washer and dryer in the basement, where before there were two small toilet stalls. After the washer and dryer were installed, and a little painting was done, the family moved in. Renovations started almost immediately, and they haven’t stopped since. With some walls and ceilings of lathe and plaster, tearing things out was a dirty business.


In the kitchen, the ceiling had to come down, expos- ing beautiful cross-beams that the couple decided to keep open. When the demolition began, hammers brought down the plaster while dust settled on every available surface. They all worked together, shovel- ing debris out the window into a dumpster outside. It’s been a family affair from the very beginning, and everyone helps creatively as well as physically.


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