This church-turned-house in small-town Ontario has a thoroughly modern interior

This $1,899,000 home took five years to renovate

Jadine Ngan
Content image
A large red-brick church surronded by trees sits on a city street
(Photography courtesy of Brian Westcott)

Walk down the main street of Beeton, Ontario, a village an hour’s drive north of Toronto, and you’ll come across a red-brick church with a bell tower, surrounded by flowering trees. Just above the double doors, lettering inlaid in red stained glass reads “AD 1879”: the year the church was consecrated. Deloitte partner Charlene Quincey and film production designer Aidan Leroux spent five years converting the former St. Paul’s Anglican Church into a two-storey single-family home, complete with four bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms. Now, the property is on the market for $1,899,000.

The living room of the home has vaulted ceilings. In the foreground are two blue velvet couches. In the background a large bookcase spans an entire wall. There are three stained glass windows on the left wall.

Quincey spent her childhood in the community of Loretto, a 10-minute drive west of Beeton; she figures she must have passed the church thousands of times growing up. In 2009, Quincey was practising law in Toronto when she met Leroux at a bar at the Broadview Hotel, where they’d both been dragged by their friends. Several years later the two would get married, but at the time, she called a loft in the east end home, and Leroux and his kids lived in a converted grocery store near the Junction. “We both had really cool places downtown and pretty dynamic lives, but we spent a lot of our time talking about and dreaming about having a unique place to live,” Quincey recalls.

READ: This $2.1-million retrofuturistic dome home is an inhabitable EPCOT

In 2010, Quincey spotted a real estate listing for the church in a local newspaper and, at dawn the next morning, Leroux drove up to Beeton to see it. Leroux, whose background is in architecture, was immediately drawn to the beauty of the building—the 28-foot ceilings, the stained-glass windows, the ample space. When he contacted the realtor, he found out that the church was conditionally sold, but the realtor predicted trouble with financing and told Leroux to call back in a few days. Sure enough, the financing had fallen through. Leroux and Quincey moved quickly to secure the property.

The master bedroom is a loft. In the foreground is a bed covered in a white duvet. It faces a large stained glass windows depicting Jesus and his disciples.

That spring, the couple drove the kids up for the annual Beeton Honey Festival and snapped a photo of them with the church in the background. Leroux pointed the building out to his son, who thought it looked like a castle. “Let’s go have a look inside,” Leroux suggested. So the family walked through the doors. That was how the children found out that the church was theirs.

The church came with a manse, or clergy house, next door—perfect for Quincey’s parents to renovate and eventually retire in. Soon, Leroux, Quincey, and Quincey’s parents put their homes up for sale, although Leroux and Quincey rented a place in Toronto so they could still have access to the city. The family spent that first year clearing the church out. “It looked like there was a service here the day we bought it,” Leroux says.

Inside were robes, pews, and all of the original church furnishings. The Anglican church had put the building up for sale after the minister fell ill and the congregation left for other local churches. “It was a functioning church and they just closed the doors,” says Leroux. The cupboards in the church kitchen were stacked high with dishes, and Boy Scout groups had left items from their activities in the basement. The carpets needed to be ripped up, and the flooring needed to be levelled after years of footsteps down the aisle had caused it to slope toward the centre of the building.

The hallway of the home. The floors are light pine. A former church pew, now painted black, is against the left wall. Stairs lead to the upper levels.

Making a home out of a church also meant wrangling plenty of red tape. Since the land was designated as institutional, they were initially unable to get a mortgage, and had to turn to personal financing. They needed to change the use designation from institutional to residential, apply for building permits, meet with the town’s building inspectors and redraw property lines. When they eventually secured a mortgage, it was a construction mortgage since the church wasn’t considered habitable.

RELATED: We bought an old ambulance and turned it into a home

The family chipped away at renovations for five years, driving up from Toronto on the weekends and juggling busy careers on the weekdays. Throughout the process, curious community members would approach the building. “We probably have had hundreds of people come into the church and say I was married here. I was baptized here. I had my grandfather’s funeral here,” Quincey recalls. Once, a woman pulled up to the house and began taking photographs. Quincey and Leroux invited her in, and it turned out that she was the daughter of the former minister. Her mother had recently passed away, so she’d decided to drive by, since she’d spent her childhood in the manse. Curiously, she shared a last name—but no known relation—with Leroux, so he remembers the encounter as “a bit of a twilight zone moment.”

The kitchen features a large marble island and a modern artwork of a woman. On the back wall, there is another stained glass window and a display of several large wood cutting boards.

They kept the original flooring, plaster, and brickwork. Then they added a floating loft, painted the walls white, and filled the space with modern art. On the main floor is a modern kitchen and living room, over which hang the original church lights. In the basement, which has nine-foot ceilings and full windows, there’s a family room and three large bedrooms with a view of the gardens. The stained-glass windows catch the morning and afternoon sun, and an oversized gas fireplace keeps the large space cozy in the winter; for the summers, there’s a pool out back.

Since the former church can easily host 70 people, they’ve welcomed family and friends for many parties and get-togethers. Sometimes, they’ve hired live musicians to play at these parties, taking advantage of the vaulted ceiling’s resounding acoustics. The surrounding community, meanwhile, is tight-knit and safe. In the evenings, they enjoy making the three-minute walk into the heart of town, where there’s an ice cream shop, a traditional Italian restaurant and a pub with a patio.

The back of the church has a patio with a picnic table and two chaisel lounge chair. Part of a pool lies to the right of the image.s.

The home requires a lot of maintenance. “It’s not a lock up and leave property,” Quincey says. Neither of them works locally, and the kids are now in university. So they decided it was time to move on. With the property up for sale, Leroux and Quincey are looking towards their next adventure, and would love to travel and work on new projects. “I have half a dozen house designs in my head,” Leroux says.

MORE: This small-town Quebec home is a retro lover’s paradise


An overhead view of the entire church, including the back patio, pool, and large backyard surrounded by trees.