CLARINGTON, Ohio.- (WTRF) With the church bell still intact Alex Abbott pulls on this brilliant red cord.
The sound resonating through her Clarington, Ohio community.
This music teacher isn’t ringing the bell inside a church but instead in the entrance of her very own home.
Alex Abbott says “I didn’t doubt him for a second even though I was kind of skeptical about it just because it will be a lot of work and patience and it’s Its nothing I’ve ever done before, but he’s had experience with it and I’ve trusted him with it. So, I’m like show me what to do and we went from there.”
Alex is referring to her husband, Taylor, the Monroe County Treasurer and history enthusiast.
According to her husband, Taylor Abbott, “We’ve never had what you call a typical marriage. Everything from the start, we’re buying a church, I am running for election, I am buying a church. We are renovating it. We just get married so we’re putting our marriage to the test right out of the gate.”
Alex says, “I knew from the start. He called me and said I am thinking about buying a church and we talked about it a bit and he hung up and I told my mom he’s going to turn it into a house.”
Taylor is the trailblazer behind the couple’s church turned house renovation project.
In June of 2016, the twosome brought the place for a bargain as an engaged couple.
Taylor wondering what the church would cost talked with one of the elder’s about the exchange.
A done deal in about five minutes from start to finish says Taylor.
Taylor adds, “We talked numbers and I said what do you want for this and they said we’ll just give it to you. I said we need to exchange money so how about a $1 and so I ended up buying it for a $1 at that point.”
With an open floor plan and a purpose they took the plunge.
The couple says they let the architecture dictate the style of this 115-year-old structure.
“We altered the entrance to make it wider. We added double doors and we took what would have been the ladies’ entrance and turned that into a guest bathroom.,” says Taylor.
Looking beyond the exquisite chandeliers from Germany, Taylor mentions that the ceiling was the focal point of the renovation, keeping the tin paneling was a must.
It took dry ice to blast off the flaking paint, a total lead abatement and a new coat of special paint that will last another 80 years.
He also says, “You can look at that same ceiling and know that the original and parishioners who build this church. They looked at that very same ceiling and they stood and looked out these same windows.”
The house would take a total of three years to renovate, then filling the house with a few of this favorites things.
A hutch full of books is Taylor’s favorite piece of furniture he bought at an auction. and this small desk bureau is another federal furniture find.
Taylor continues, “In the end it worked out because we liked the federal period style, the classical style, the art on our walls and the decoration we use reflect that period and I also have a lot of Clarington items that were historical for the town, different maps, different photographs, old family memorabilia or photographs, boat models, things of that era that not only reflect my family’s history, but also the town’s history and the maritime art that we have here reflects more of a passion that she and I have for ocean liners and that old world history.”
The passion that Taylor is talking about is present on their walls.
Maritime must haves everywhere.
An old newspaper clipping of the sinking of the Titantic to boat models to boat paintings..
Taylor’s side of the family has been in the boating business that dates back to 1860.
And as for Alex, she has always had an interest in boats and taking that next aquatic adventure.
The biggest adventure yet, on the water, would have to be on their wedding day when the two were married on an actual ocean liner, the Queen Mary 2.
Turning now from their nautical nuptials to what may be Taylor’s most precious treasure.
His great, great-grandfather’s wedding ring that he now wears around his finger as married man.
The pair displaying items including goblets, chinaware and this ornamental wrought iron piece passed down through the years.
Taylor also states, “We use every piece of furniture in this place. Nothing is a showpiece. It’s an antique but it got here because it was being used.”
Taylor and Alex enjoyed documenting the whole renovation process on social media sites, like Instagram, and that’s when an HGTV producer saw the post and phoned them back in January.
They were thrilled when they heard the news producers were interested in featuring their house on HGTV and Discovery TV’s new show Cheap Old Houses with Ethan and Elizabeth Finkelstein.
He also says, “We interviewed with three producers, took them on tour using their phone showing them what we have done. Showed them some of the architectural elements from there it was sending them photographs. They wanted to see before and after and what we wanted to do and about three weeks later we got the call we were on the show.”
The episode featuring the Abbott’s aired on Labor Day.
“It was an honor to be part of that show especially because it was the first season and their goal was to restore old houses and to fix them up to their former glory you want to keep that,” he says.
According to Taylor, it was important to not along preserve the history of the church but also honor past parishioners.
He says, “I was very mindful from the onset that what we did here was done in a very reverent, respectful way.”
Taylor says the pair are preservationists and that is truly the perfect word to describe this couple.
Preservation by definition is the act of protecting, maintaining or keeping something in existence.
“The church is 115 years old. For us we want it to last another 115 years. I hope the story will be, we will be, that we saved this piece of history for the next generation because we are only caretakers of this building, of this room and you own nothing in life it just gets passed onto someone else so we are just caretakers at this point,” says Taylor.
Taylor and Alex have taken the church that is still to this day deep rooted in the Clarington community and saved it from being demolished.
Some say to make the church your home and this husband and wife under the eyes of God have honored their town and made the church their home, literally, and will be Happily Ever Abbott.