From House of Worship to Housing Units: New Owner of former Catholic Church Building Working on Creating Apartments
View of the former sanctuary from John Barrett's current bedroom.
BY NIKKI MEYER
The “For Sale” sign in front of the former St. Katherine’s Catholic Church Building is gone. The building has a new owner.
Having an entrepreneurial eye, when John Barrett saw the building for sale, he saw an opportunity. Though based out of South Dakota, Barrett’s “day job” is in the drain tile business, selling for a company based out of Westfield, IA. The job allows him considerable flexibility, and he does some work on the side running a used equipment business and traveling around in his motorhome. Now, he also intends to be in the business of owning and renting apartments.
“I’ve always colored outside the lines. I’ve wanted a church for a long, long time I just never found one that was suitable or that was priced in a range I could afford. When this opportunity presented itself my mind started working with all the possibilities,” Barrett said.
Originally Barrett had planned to set up living spaces inside the church and erect a commercial storage building/work shop on the grounds outside to house some of his equipment. “I have a small fleet of equipment... I want to be a good neighbor... My plan was to build a cold frame building and then keep everything under cover.” Having learned that the portion of his property he was going to build on is zoned residential, he is now changing his plans. “I’m probably going to end up just putting more residential units on that [parking lot] property.”
Inside Barrett has been busy outfitting the building with additional insulation and more energy efficient light fixtures. “It’s an absolutely beautiful building,” Barrett said. “It’s well built.” His intentions are to end up with two 860 square foot two-bedroom apartments in the former sanctuary and an additional space for his own belongings or to eventually rent out as a third apartment.
Barrett is staying in the building for now while he works on it. The loft room that overlooks the former sanctuary is serving as his bedroom. It’s certainly a room with a view, overlooking the natural light-filled sanctuary with its tall, stately wooden ceiling.
In the large, round window that faces west, he’s hung a Christmas wreath. “It’s about a six-foot window,” Barrett said. “I thought it would be fun, so I got a four-foot wreath to hang in it... It took me a while to find it.”
Sharing the large space with him is his little black Snoodle, Boo.
Barrett said he’s enjoyed his time in Truman so far, commenting on the welcoming people he’s met in town. In the month he’s been here, he’s already gotten to know many of them by name.
Barrett is also renting the two buildings directly south of BoeKett, on the east side of the highway. He hopes to buy them in the future. He’s made it clear that he doesn’t intend to just make money from the community without investing anything back into it. “I did my homework before I bought this property,” Barrett said, discussing population trends in Truman. “I’m wondering... what can the city do to modify it’s long-term thoughts and processes to make this community more desirable?” He hopes that quality rental housing and another business on the highway will be a positive addition to the town.