A HEAVENLY little piece of property goes under the hammer today when the old St Stephen’s Anglican church at Bendemeer is put up for sale.
And while real estate agent Kim Stibbard from Ray White in Tamworth is hoping for a mass of interested buyers, she has read the riot act to some who might want to snag some old religious realty.
As a prime condition of sale, the owner, the parish of Uralla, has instructed that the buyer cannot ever use it as a brothel.
Pure and simple.
So, “No Madams Need Apply” is the moral of this story.
The little weatherboard church is in the best street in Bendemeer, according to Mrs Stibbard, and while it’s a no-go zone as a house of ill repute, it’s the perfect place for a bed-and-breakfast, a coffee shop or cafe, antiques or craft shop, and even a little weekender or getaway.
“It is just so very cute and has a host of possibilities for sale,” she said.
While it was decommissioned as a place of worship last February, there are still some holy orders around it.
It has local heritage orders on it – meaning you can’t move it, and any extensions to the outside or the perimeter of the building need to be in keeping with the general architectural appeal.
The church is about 26 metres long and once housed up to 20 pews, which are long gone now, and will need some sympathetic interior work – particularly to provide for a bathroom and the realities of living.
But Mrs Stibbard says the pulpit area would be perfect for a claw foot bath and she can just imagine the priest’s robe room as a kitchen.
“I think someone with the right inspiration could do something really schmick with it,” she said.
“It’s been a lot of fun marketing it and getting it ready for auction. I have never sold a church before, so this really is a revelation, but there’s been great interest in it.”
The building sits on a 4000square metre block next to a public hall now owned by the regional council.
The owners, trustees for the Armidale Anglican diocese, have declared that the proceeds will help the operations of a youth hostel in Uralla, but also to help with the ongoing maintenance of some other small outlying churches in Brushgrove, Wollen and Kentucky.
So, what’s a church worth? Well, the prophets might put a higher price on it, but in the market it could be something like $65,000 for the block. The church value is not so easy to predict.
The mere mortals in the real estate office aren’t real sure either. They’re saying it’s in the lap of the gods.
The auction is at 6pm Thursday at the Ray White office in Tamworth.