JoAnn Rosenthal always loved the simple lines of St. Joseph's, a church near where she used to spend weekends away from New York City.
So when it went on the market in 2000, she and a friend snapped it up with the idea of turning what was essentially a stone-and-stucco building from the 1870s into a weekend retreat.
It took several years, and at one point Rosenthal rented a house nearby to keep daily tabs on the renovation. They dug a well, added plumbing and electricity, put a kitchen in the old vestry and built an annex for additional bedrooms.
They also uncovered murals on the ceiling.
"When I purchased the church, there were ceiling fans suspended from the old pressed-tin ceiling," she said. "When we removed the ceiling, we discovered they'd installed a ceiling fan right in the middle of Jesus' belly."
When the renovation was finished, Rosenthal found her weekends there growing longer until she just left New York and moved into the church full time. She bought out her friend several years ago, when he moved to Argentina.
The three-bedroom, three-bath home, which is listed for $749,000, sits on 1.5 acres in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Radiant floor heat warms the great room, which has 15-foot ceilings, and the home is decorated and lit by original stained-glass windows. A garden shed that resembles a chapel also has original stained-glass windows.
The steeple still holds the old church bell, which Rosenthal said visitors like to ring.
"I usually say you can ring it once as you're leaving, because the people who live around me were parishioners, and I think it's a reminder to them that it's not a church anymore," she said.
The listing agent is Michael Strickland of Addison Wolfe Real Estate.
Photos by John Armich