A restored Greek Revival church built in 1845 in Eastern North Carolina is on the market, and it needs a new owner to decide how to fill its 20 antique pews.
It can be converted to a private residence, remain a wedding venue or be used as a store, said real estate broker Nancy Winslow. And it can be had for a song, or a hymn if you prefer – it’s listed for $39,000.
St. Frances Methodist Church is off N.C. 11 in Woodville, 40 miles north of Greenville. The 1,351-square-foot church was restored to its former glory by a local restoration contractor in 2004.
The church, surrounded by cotton fields, was purchased in 2013 to use for wedding events by Triangle couple Annette and Kim Ringeisen, Winslow said. After one wedding season, the sellers had a job transfer to California, and they hope someone will take over the structure.
The church has heart pine flooring, its original pews, intricate carvings, a working organ and steeple bell, an upstairs gallery and velvet altar chairs. But it needs a little modernizing, Winslow said. The church has updated electrical systems but needs an estimated $4,000 of work to get running water and sewer inside, she said.
Winslow said she lives about 10 minutes from the church and hopes that someone will bring life to the structure.
“I want somebody to love it, take care of it, and preserve it,” she said.
St. Frances sits in the tiny historic village of Woodville, which consists of 14 principal structures built primarily between 1801 and 1927, according to the National Register of Historic Places. In addition to St. Frances, the district includes six pre-Civil War houses, two antebellum cemeteries and three early 20th century Craftsman homes, typically square two-story buildings with gables and wraparound porches.
The church was built on land donated by Humphrey H. Hardy and named to honor Frances S. Pugh of Woodville, who willed $1,000 for its construction, according to the National Register.
In 1896, it was moved by a team of mules a short distance to the town of Lewiston, but it was returned to its original home in 2000.
By the early 1990s the church membership had diminished. Its last member, Elizabeth Steinhardt-Widmer, who was 101 in 2008, continued to maintain the closed church, according to a 2008 article in The Virginian-Pilot. She died in April 2010 at the age of 103.
A plaque was placed at the front entrance to honor Steinhardt-Widmer, calling her the guiding light of St. Frances.
The church property is zoned to allow for a single-family home or commercial uses, but several historical covenants require the new owner to preserve the most significant characteristics of the church.