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Sometimes a congregation wants a bigger building, sometimes a congregation peters out making the building irrelevant. Whatever the reason more churches are being abandoned these days than ever before leaving often magnificent structures to rot.

“So many people just throw away, tear down want something new,” says The Sanctuary of Wabash owner Jennifer Bailey. “And once that's thrown away it's gone.”

The Wabash Street Methodist Church in Wabash, Indiana, built in 1903, was abandoned nearly a decade ago. Then Ben and Jennifer Bailey bought it.

“So when we walked in there were birds and bats flying around in the sanctuary in the main room,” recalls Jennifer.

The birds and bats are gone and where they once lived is now Wabash's newest business, The Sanctuary of Wabash, an overnight event center hosting weddings, graduations, parties..any public or private event. The main room sports comfy seating, a large meeting and dining area and a fully equipped modern kitchen, all illuminated by the subtle light of stained glass. Downstairs a main entertainment space branches off to bedrooms sleeping up to 16 guests for family or corporate overnights. The Bailey's are contractors and spent a year restoring and refurbishing the old church. It was not an easy task but there was always something there to inspire them.

“The stained glass was the only thing that kind of got us through the renovation,” says Jennifer. “That is really what pushed us everyday to come in and to bring it back from the brink of extinction.”

Whatever their motivation the Bailey's have taken a throw-away building and created a comfortable, convenient and thoroughly modern commercial enterprise, and one that comes with its own atmosphere of inspiration and mystery. Eric Olson reporting out in 21 Country.

Eric Olson

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