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Home remodel turns up hidden treasures

Lifestyle article "Open Door's facelift near completion," written by Flora Burfeind. (photo by Kit Murray)1 / 2
A copy of the Republican Eagle from Feb. 8, 1985, church pamphlets and a bathroom door sign rested inside the walls of the Butenschoen home. (photo by Kit Murray)2 / 2

When construction started, Patty Butenschoen had a general idea of what was in store for her home. The remodeling of a business property into a residential property is a lengthy process that would take countless hours of work and time out of her everyday schedule. What she didn't anticipate was that during this process, a time capsule hidden between the walls of her home would be revealed.

Over 20 years ago, Butenschoen purchased her home. She has resided there since 1995 with her daughter, Tayler, and husband, Brian. The family of three has enjoyed the high ceilings and unusual landscape of an old church and all-around unique home. But they decided it was time to remodel and utilize the space more efficiently.

With walls being torn down and the space receiving a complete makeover, it was a shock to everyone when they noticed a time capsule within one of the walls. Inside the small opening was a copy of the Republican Eagle dating Feb. 8, 1985, for just 35 cents, a list of the Open Door Alliance Church charter members in 1983, a newsletter from the church titled "The Alliance Accent" for January-March 1984, and a few miscellaneous pamphlets from the Christian and Missionary Alliance.

"I'm so happy for those that know the church and to know that their treasure was found," Butenschoen said.

In the paper, reporter Flora Burfeind writes, "The original structure was put up by Concordia Lutheran congregation in 1947, sold later to the Nazarene Church and then stood empty for a time."

The church used to have 120 pews in what the Butenschoens' now call their living room, an office for the pastor and a Sunday school room, which the family made into a bedroom.

After buying the house for a little over $60,000, Butenschoen laughed when asked why she purchased it at the age of 21 years old. "It was cheap! When you're young and never rented before and moving out of mom and dad's house," she said. "we knew we could afford that."

It hasn't always been easy, though. Not everyone has received the memo that church is no longer in session, much less that a family now resides here.

"I had stayed home sick," Butenschoen said. "I was on the couch in my pajamas and this man just walked in. I had my coffee and he walks up and asks, 'Isn't this the church?' and I said, 'No!'"

There were different times when groups came to look at the house and even a police officer showed up one time, while she and her friend were enjoying an evening together, accusing her of breaking into the church. "I had owned it for around 10 years at that point."

Although she and her family have been able to make the building feel more like home over the two decades, Butenschoen is excited that the remodeling is soon to be complete. The addition of a story will increase the square footage from 2,000 to almost double that. By March of this year, the former Old Open Door Alliance will yet again receive another facelift.

Kit Murray

Kit Murray joined Red Wing Republican Eagle in Aug. 2016, covering government, transportation and public safety. She is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead with a degree in photojournalism and philosophy. 

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