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Wanna Buy a Single-Family Rock ‘n’ Roll Church Home?

Built in 1889, White Bear Lake's "Old Stewart" has been transformed from a church to a playhouse to, most recently, a fully reimagined single-family home/concert venue.

2:49 PM CDT on October 25, 2023

Kelly Clement and Steve Bucher enjoyed their victory lap in the Star Tribune just this past January. The homeowners/musicians saved 4820 Stewart Ave., the oldest surviving church in White Bear Lake, from the wrecking ball, and they were eager to show off the staggering renovation that followed. Bucher cooked up an indulgent metaphor to sidestep questions of cost.

"There's no way to plan for… this," he told the newspaper, gesturing toward the gleaming stage extending from the altar. "You don't count calories when you're on vacation."

Clement and Bucher bought the 134-year-old Carpenter Gothic structure for $435,000 in 2020, per county records. It had previously served as the 182-seat HQ for the Lakeshore Players Theatre since 1971. They spent $100K on a to-the-studs demolition, but the total price tag of the "spared no expense" renovation that followed remains a mystery. This much is certain: They did a lot to transform the ol' church into a one-of-a-kind residence/performance space.

"We didn't have an exact plan in mind, but we both realized that if we didn't do it, we'd regret it," Bucher tells Racket. "So we just plunged ahead."

And now the couple is ready to plunge ahead with their next restoration adventure: They listed Old Stewart last week for $3.45 million.

"Oh, boy, I don't even know if I want to publish anything on why we want to move on..." Clements says. "But we found another project in the metro, and it involves castle architecture. Let's just say that."

Among the features included with the three-bedroom, three-bathroom, 5,012-square-foot home located blocks from the lake: an 18-foot antique bar imported from a Wisconsin pub (a $100,000 rehab job, Clements says); 11 restored stained glass windows that once dotted a Minneapolis church (they're now reportedly insured for $750,000); original Douglas fir flooring; "second-to-none" professional sound system (see gear-head specs here); 500-gallon koi pond; and a pontoon with a WBL slip tossed in as a bonus. The updates are too numerous to name-check here, so feel free to check the breakdown included in the listing photos; we must mention, however, that the Zip-brand kitchen faucet can dispense filtered cold water, chilled carbonated water, or boiling water—the future is here!

The couple reports they'll miss their in-home concert hall most of all. This past spring Old Stewart began hosting private fundraisers, with talent like '90s alt-rocker J.R. Richards of Dishwalla, Minnesota Boychoir, and a "spectacular" veteran Vegas magician gracing the holy stage. "It's really a magical, intimate space," Clement says.

"We always swore that we're gonna die in this place—and maybe we still will!" she adds with a chuckle. Concludes Bucher: "We found what could be our next project, and we'll just see if there's interest in this place."

Let's take a photo tour of Old Stewart, courtesy of the sellers:

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