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152 year old Pennsylvania church converted to a home & artist workshop studio

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The1870 Diary

Morton is retiring!

If we had a church bell, I would surely be ringing it to spread the news far and wide. After working non-stop, harder than anyone I’ve ever met and more than full time since he was 17, Morton is retiring early on July 25, 2022 at the age of 55.

My heart is so happy for him, he is a bit worried because it’s his nature, but I’m so proud he’s going for it. He did the math, figured we can survive on a smaller pension (we do live very frugally and enjoy it!) and most of all, being together more is something we both want more than all the money on this earth.

There has never been one person that I’ve ever heard of, at the end of their life, wish that they had more money. We all would wish for more time, just another moment. So instead of spending at least 40 hours a week, and usually 50 or 60, plus a daily 3 hour commute in the car, Morton has decided to go for it!

Retirement isn’t going to mean sitting around in the rocking chair, though we will do a lot more of that now, because we live in this glorious old church that always needs more work, has unending projects and the great part now will be that he doesn’t have to go to bed at 7 pm to wake up at 1 am to go work a 12 hour shift. 

Morton is amazing, hard working and believe me when I tell you, the best is yet to come!

Stay tuned and enjoy the ride with us!

Priscilla

Pretty on the outside

Since the beginning of our journey here at the lovely old church we call home, we have known that getting the big roof done was going to be the most expensive project we’d be doing and one we couldn’t do ourselves. Any other things we did were done one the strictest economy, usually by ourselves and with no regrets that we have $90 kitchen counters made from Formica instead of thousands of dollars for marble, granite or something trendy and costly.

The outside of the church, even things like the doors that were not insulated, got frost on the insides of them and had huge gaps went on the back burner, saving all the pennies for the roof.

With the help of savings, we managed to get the roof done in 2021 and now the outside of the church, which has been neglected due to budget, is getting a makeover on a budget. New energy efficient doors have gone up in our main entrance, we still have five more to replace, but these things take time, there’s been a deck added over the studio patio creating a lovely veranda and our front steps are fully planted in free canna lilies that started off as less than 20 from a friend and now numbers in the hundreds, all adding up to the old church looking as loved on the outside as it is on the inside.

I’m hoping that you are enjoying watching our journey and invite you to connect with us on our social media to see just how beautiful this home is becoming!

Have a beautiful day!

Priscilla 

Mystery Packages will help fund exploring our Mystery Room!

Ever since we bought this old church, we’ve known it’s had a secret or two we needed to explore. The bell tower is a mystery on it’s own, but at the very base of the bell tower, just behind the newer drywall wall in the studio kitchen, there’s an actual secret room we haven’t been able to enter yet.

What’s waiting for us in there? Your guess is as good as ours. It was probably used for storage. What we do know is that it is about 14 feet by 14 feet, will have really thick walls and we want to be able to use that space, since it’s ideally situated at the front of the church by our gardens, to put electric to the outside and a much-needed hose connection.

Our waiting to get in the room has always been because of the fact we had to replace the big roof, bell tower roof and spend so much money just to make this place watertight, we’ve not had any extras to spend on a room that might not even be useable. We don’t know what we are getting in to when we take down the drywall wall and explore the basement room of the bell tower. It’s a total mystery.

None of the locals who went to this church, when it was a church, know what it was used for. Not one clue. One said he might have carried Christmas decorations in there in the 1960’s but he isn’t sure, it might have been another part of the basement. There are two of them here.

One basement is the home of the old oil boiler that runs hot water to the 22 radiators in the vestry, main sanctuary and loft. I has four oil tanks in it that each hold 275 gallons of oil, aka black gold, and I thank our lucky stars that we have the biomass stove that is our primary heat source every time I think about that old basement. The other basement, where the bell tower holds it’s hidden room, is the beautiful 2400 square feet studio that has a split unit in for heating and cooling and is so efficient, it costs us just a dollar a day to run it in the winter or summer. Behind the stove and refrigerator, behind the wall that was built who knows when, there is a room. The mystery room.

Several months ago Morton and I fell in love with TikTok. If you use it, you can find and follow us at http://tiktok.com/the1870studio 

As we started using it, sharing short videos about our church home in the mountains of Pennsylvania, doing live TikTok’s and interacting with people who really love what we’re doing, something wonderful happened! We started selling so many Mystery Packages from The1870 Studio! Every day, without fail, we get orders for these Mystery Packages filled with surprises made right here, by me! It’s really remarkable, wonderful and so incredible to see the money come in to take a wall down, explore the mystery and hopefully have a functional room to use that is at the very front of the church.

Morton and I are so grateful to everyone who buys one and guess what? People are loving them because they’re buying more than one! It’s a straight up church miracle!!!

Hopefully we will solve one mystery by selling another, to our lovely friends online who see this place as something special and worthy of saving.

We truly appreciate and love you!

Priscilla & Morton

The wall came down!

Yesterday we had planned what we were going to do on Morton’s day off, but our lovely old church had a different idea for us. We were going to head to a garden center, buy a yellow rose for my mom’s memory garden and a red rose for my mother-in-law’s memory garden, stake down the dropper hose on the hay bales, mow the lawn and have a lovely day outside that wasn’t to filled with work. After all, Morton works long hard hours at his job, so his days off we try to balance with some rest for him. I try anyway, Morton is always in work mode and the hardest working person I’ve ever met.

Just as we are leaving, Morton decides to see how easy it is to take one of the loose veneer rocks off of the bulging wall that we’ve both been wary of since we bought this place. I might have encouraged him to try it too, I’d have to watch the TikTok I was making. It came out so easy, it was a simple choice to just make that wall disappear on the sunny Monday.

There are lots of videos on this @the1870studio if you’d like to see it happen, rather than just reading about it.

After 8 plus hours, with dark approaching fast, Morton had finished a huge task, mainly by himself. It’s secure, looks beautiful and is going to be turned into a TikTok family garden for all our amazing followers on TikTok who send us gifts during our lives. It’ll be filled with fun, whimsy and the best thing ever, friendships and kindness from people who love what we’re doing here.

Thank you to everyone who is on this wonderful adventure with us. We appreciate you being here.

Hugs,

Priscilla 

Rainy outside, cozy inside!

Today is a good day for a great day. I'm going to be making a crockpot of homemade soup, putting beeswax & orange oil on my parents rocking chairs I had gotten them for their 50th wedding anniversary back in 2000, then heading down the stairs in my office to go to the studio!

We're going to have our first ever Un-Birthday Party in the studio tomorrow from 4 to 6 pm and I'm so excited for it! We're also open both Saturday and Sunday with weekend from 10 to 2 to showcase and sell our fused glass creations.

The weather is watering my hay bales for me, which are ready to plant in on Monday. Weather permitting of course. My morning was going to include weeding in the little flower garden on the east side, but it's just 53 degrees here with a drizzle, so I think those weeds will get to live another day.

My happiest thoughts of today are that Morton, though at work right now, is going to have five lovely days off in a row and we're going to get some lovely projects done together. It's always so much better when he's here. This lovely old church doesn't feel complete when he's gone.

Wishing you a wonderful day filled with magic you make, fun with friends and a shared smile along the way.

Priscilla :)

 

On a roll!

Look at me, posting again. Once neglected, now embracing a wee bit of time to tell you about what's been happening here.

Yesterday in the studio we had a lovely reporter and cameraman come in to do a story on our glass pulling. It was really fun and I'll share the link as soon as the segment airs.

The day before I was working down at the grow cage, where we are going to be growing a full garden in 52 bales of hay that I've just finished conditioning, and I was feeling rather clever because I came up with an easy way to turn three old chairs into a bench. At least that was my intention, until I had one of those slow motion accidents. While sitting on the boards I was trying to screw into place, I moved over slightly and went over like a house of cards. Somehow I manage to fall on my thumb, cutting it and smashing it all at the same time.

Now I'm banished from the garden until I grow some skin back so I don't get dirt in my wound. I'll also be wearing gloves until it's completely healed.

Today is gloomy but it's so cozy inside. I'm currently typing this to you from the old enamel top table in the kitchen, getting ready to head to the studio down the stairs in my office and get things ready for this weekend.

We're having an Un-Birthday Party on Saturday where everyone brings a cupcake and a wrapped handmade gift. Each will be placed on our new counter. Then when we have everyone here, we'll all choose a different cupcake and gift and celebrate all of our un-birthdays! I have a special gift for anyone who comes along that are actually celebrating their real birthday on that day...but shhhhh...that's a secret!

I'm going to sign off for today, dear friend, and get on with my lovely list of projects today. I'm sending you wishes for a day as beautiful as you are.

Priscilla :)

 

Expect wonderful things

Today I sit here with the light streaming through the windows, promising that spring, as the calendar says, is indeed here. My laptop is on my lap, I'm taking a break from working on the new website, The1870Studio.com to just check some links on this one, and I felt compelled to write another entry in this digital diary.

Morton is fast asleep, he's second shift today. The studio will be open from 10 to 2, Cassidy, our helper from Hong Kong who is here until May 8th is going to finish planting the last bed of canna lilies on the steps in the sunshine and all is really wonderful in our little world here.

I am wondering about you, dear reader, virtual visitor. What is your day looking like today? Are we a bright spot in it? I hope so. I wish you the most wonderful day filled with moments that bring you bliss and little sparks of smiles that fill it full of memories.

I'm so grateful for you. Happy that you're interested in our never-ending project here. You are my bright spark, though we don't know each other, I like to think about you watching the progress, sending positive thoughts our way and just taking the time from your day to spend a bit with us.

Expect wonderful things :)

Priscilla

Tradition of ignoring this diary continues!

Hello you wonderful person!

Priscilla here, and though I love to write, absolutely adore writing, I also get distracted by this big old baby of ours, The1870.

Today I’m going to not make a promise of writing more. It’s a tough thing, but I feel like I don’t want to neglect this diary, just need to pop in and put a post up when I have a quiet moment. If you know anything about my life, it’s that those quiet moments are really rare.

Staying in motion while being still is something that I continue to work on, but I find the fine art of sitting and typing at my desktop computer is just not as joyful as it once was. The church is always needing my attention, the studio and it’s tempting arts and crafts are always calling and my office, where said desktop sits, is just not appealing. 

Fear not, I have a plan! I’m getting ready to spruce up the office, fill it with magic, get a chair that fits my backside and is comfy enough to sit in and write. Honestly write. Losing myself for hours, days and whole chunks of time where I can just run wild on the keyboard.

Thank you for being here, reading, watching, supporting, and being a big part of what makes me smile each day.

I’ll write more later.

Priscilla :)

October 20, 2021 HOW did two years go by since I posted?!?

Obviously we’ve been busy! Time flies whether you’re restoring an old church or not, so you might as well enjoy each and every moment.

Since we utilize Facebook, I’m basically blogged out when it comes to posting on this diary, but I really do want to get better at it.

This year has been a whirlwind of roofing, gardens, getting The1870 Studio ready to re-open to do workshops in a safe manner and so much more. 

Firewood season is upon us and we’ll spend lots of Morton’s days off splitting and stacking the wood we have cut outside. It’s such a money saver for us and since it’s so labor intensive, it helps up with lots of cardio and strength training. 

This winter we hope to start making some of the stained glass shutters we’re building together for the sanctuary part of the building. Morton is going to be doing the frames out of oak and massive hinges, I’m doing all the stained glass panels and working on the design to actually make these work. I’ve never seen anything like them before and hopefully we’ll be happy with the results. 

Out view out of all the east windows are of the stunning forest and mountains that make it feel like we’re all alone in this paradise. The views are too beautiful to put stained glass in that would block them, so my solution is the shutters. We can open them half way, see the view and still enjoy the colors and majesty that stained glass gives this delightful structure.

Wood working area is being set up in the studio and Morton and I are going to get very creative with lovely pieces of maple, birch, cherry, oak and several other gorgeous kinds of wood we have here.

Please check out our Facebook pages for pictures, come along to our workshops and open houses and stay creative!

Priscilla

2019 is off to a wonderful start!

Since we post so much on our Facebook pages for The1870 and The1870 Studio, I really neglect this blog.  It is my goal to do better this year.

Big news around here is that we have a wonderful Sedore biomass stove that has helped with high heating oil costs and hope to add another stove this year that will tie in to our cast iron radiators.  We've been burning all sorts of things in it and it's been a learning curve with the high winds we get here, but overall, we are thrilled with it.  Is it dusty and more work? YES!!! Is it worth it? Of course!!! We're saving money and getting exercise with it.  All good things.

Other exciting news is that the ground floor living area is being converted into our amazing arts and crafts studio.  We will be finished with the set up for an opening in June 2019 where we will offer workshops in stained glass, glass blowing, glass bead making, glass fusing, jewelry making, mixed media arts, fiber arts, scrapbooking, writing and much more.  Watch our studio page on Facebook for all the details and schedules. 

So much to do and such fun watching things come together is what really keeps me motivated.  Hope spring finds us soon.

Priscilla

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