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And Now, the Latest Scalzi Acquisition

And to help us along with this, I am calling on your friend and mine, Whatever’s favorite recurring gimmick, the Fictional Interlocutor!

For the record, I’m not comfortable being called a gimmick.

I understand that entirely, and yet.

Hmmmph. Why are you bothering me now?

Because I want you to help me introduce the latest Scalzi acquisition!

(Rolls eyes) You know, there are only so many multi-necked guitars you can buy before the schtick gets old.

I understand that. Are you ready?

(Sighs) Fine, let’s get this over with.

Okay! Here’s the new thing:

Wow, what a surprise, you bought a new guitar.

Well, yes, but —

And it’s a three-string cigar box guitar with a silk-screened American flag! How very patriotic of you.

Thank you, but —

Only one neck, though. You’re slipping.

Well, look, one, not every guitar needs more than one neck. And two, the guitar isn’t actually the latest acquisition.

Come again?

The guitar isn’t the latest acquisition.

So… you’re showing off what, then? New shoes? Is this kindergarten show and tell?

Not the shoes.

(Impatient) Then what? The jacket? The pants? That clearly obvious neck wattle?

It’s not a wattle.

All right, it’s new, it needs time to grow into a wattle. It’s a wattlette.

That’s not even a word, and no to all of those.

I give up. What is it?

Here, let me reframe the photo. Maybe that will help.

Okay, so, your latest acquisition is a court summons for trespassing at a local church.

Well, see, that’s the thing. I’m not trespassing.

What do you mean?

That’s the latest Scalzi acquisition.

You… bought a church?!?

Yes.

A church.

Yes.

You.

Yes.

A whole church.

I mean, who buys a fraction of a church?

I… you… just… Dude. A church.

Come on. Yes. I bought it. Actually, we bought it, since Krissy is on the title as well.

… why?

I need an excuse?

Yes, you really do.

Fine. For a while now, Krissy and I have been talking about how we wanted to get some additional space for long-term business plans that we have. We had looked at other property in Bradford, but it didn’t fit for what we wanted to do. So were thinking of buying some land locally and building some office and storage space on it. I opened up a real estate site to see what land parcels might be available nearby, and as it happened this church had literally come onto the market that day, a couple hours earlier. In terms of what we needed a space for, this building offered it, along with a fair number of other options as well.

We set up an appointment to see it, were convinced it was worth pursuing, and made an offer. They accepted it. And if people are reading this, it means we’ve actually closed on the deal, and we’re now officially the owners of the building. We own a church.

You’re not planning to, like, start a religion or anything.

Well, as it happens, Krissy and I are both ordained ministers.

What.

It’s true. It’s useful to officiate weddings. But to be clear, no, we have no plans to start a religion. The track record of science fiction authors starting their own religions is, shall we say, spotty at best.

You say that now. But you have a church

You’ll just have to trust me on this one.

We’ll see.

Fair enough.

And anyway, now you’re one of those people.

What do you mean?

Look, not everyone can just wake up, eat a donut and then buy a church on a whim.

I mean, it wasn’t a whim. As noted, we have practical reasons for wanting more space, and it just so happens that the space that best suited our needs locally came in the form of a church.

With that said, okay, sure. I’m now in that tier of authors with idiosyncratic real estate purchases. Some of these authors buy old movie theaters. Some buy Masonic temples. Some buy small islands. I’m getting a church. I’m not going to pretend it’s not a little eccentric. I actually like that. I will probably lean into it as we go along. 

So, how much are churches going for these days, anyway?

A bit more than a six-necked guitar, but inasmuch as this is a church in a small rural community, possibly less than you might suspect. Suffice to say we wouldn’t have gotten it if we did not believe it was within our means. The odd musical purchase aside, Krissy and I are fairly conservative in how we spend our money. This is a long-term project and investment and we’ve budgeted for it as such. 

What happened to the former owners? Did you defenestrate them or something?

There was no defenestration. The building was formerly owned by the Methodist Church, and as I understand it over time the congregation shrank and was merged with another congregation a bit down the road. When that happened, the Methodists didn’t need this building any more, and while they kept it in reasonably good repair (otherwise we wouldn’t have bought it), it wasn’t doing what it was intended to do for them, which was to be a place of worship and community. So they let it go to be useful to someone else, in this case, us.

How old is it?

It’s a little over eighty years old.

Is it haunted?

When word got out locally that we were buying the place, some former members of the congregation assured us that it was. However, if it is, they are Methodist ghosts, and I suspect that means they are reasonably friendly and that the haunting will be somewhat polite. 

You should start a bookstore/goth club/restaurant/[insert some other idea here] in that space.

When you buy your own church, you can do any of those things you like! As for us, be assured that we do have plans, and that we will work toward them over time. Again, this is a long-term project for us. I will say that one thing that Krissy and I have talked about is the desire to have the building continue to be part of the community, rather than entirely removed from it. Bradford has been good to us over the years, and we would like to return the favor. How best to do that is something we still have to think about. But it’s very much part of our planning for the place. 

What are you going to name it? Church of the Scalzi?

There’s already at least one of those, in Venice (right by the Scalzi Bridge!). But we might call it that, simply for convenience. I’m sure there will be other possible names: Church of the Infinite Burrito, First Assembly of the Bacon Cat, The Sacred Order of the Six-Necked Beast, and so on. If people have suggestions, they can leave them in the comments, along with any other questions they might have about the church, and us, and the fact that it’s our place now.

And I think that’s it for you today, fictional interlocutor.

I suppose so. But, dude.

What?

You own a church.

I know. I know. 

— JS

(Update: A follow-up post.)

By John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

177 replies on “And Now, the Latest Scalzi Acquisition”

Ha ha ha ha ha!

When I saw the first picture, I did wonder if the windows behind you were the point. ;-)

“First Assembly of the Bacon Cat” had me laughing out loud in my office.

I will point out that the extremely small town my wife grew up in had made an old church into the public library. So that has precedent.

So you could have a book store/library/coffee shop which hosts the occasional late-night Scalzi-DJed rave, finishing up with a showing of Rocky Horror.

Sounds great! I’d buy a membership except that it’s a bit far away from where I live.

Have fun! Thanks for sharing!

So, you are asking us to take it on faith that you aren’t starting a new religion?

Sigh, that’s how it always starts, as a slippery slope paved with good intentions.

Seriously though, congrats on the purchase. It’s got CRENELLATIONS! I’m definitely making my wayyy there at the first sign of the zombie apocalypse! :)

If I remember correctly a comedian bought a church in Pittsburgh or someplace like that and was converting it to a comedy incubator. He gave away the cross and bell to another church and was going to use the space to help develop new comedians, do podcasts and the like since the building has accommodations to do it.

Is this 80s Black Sabbath fandom taken to the extreme conclusion? Because it’s not just a church, but also AN ORGAN. To go with the guitars.

I’m kind of picturing “School of Hard Rock,” Scalzi style, with maybe some yoga in the community basement afterward. For people who (once) had long hair and still wear black t-shirts.

We all know you bought this so you could play In a Gadda Da Vida on the church organ a la The Simpsons.

Or maybe Toccata and Fugue in D minor a la Captain Nemo?

Churches are nice, but I really want a fire station. A cool midcentury modern one, not a bland box.

Starting a church has been a great moneymaker for some folks, but I don’t buy books from that kind of people.

Vaya con dios, Your Burritoness!

Um, it’s not a church. It’s a building that uses to be used as a church.

To be a church you usually gotta be peddling some kind of bullshit not usually associated with John Scalzi.

You bought. A church.

You can’t fool me, or any of your other regulars and semi-regulars – we know the moment you saw the pipe organ in that chapel with what looks like awesome acoustics, you just had to have it, didn’t you? You’re going to turn that into the best recording studio/music venue Middle-of-Nowhere Ohio has ever seen….

Based on the last picture, I’m wondering: did you also buy an organ, as part of the property? (If so, way to go making even bigger odd musical purchases than you have previously.).

If the pipes are merely decorative, or otherwise nonfunctional at this point, they still look cool. (But if it’s a working or easily restorable instrument, it’d also be cool to try out.)

Congratulations on your extraordinary acquisition. I have always loved churches. If I could buy a small one I would renovate and live in it. I always visit churches when I travel and take many pictures.

Full disclosure: I’m an Atheist. My close friends and family find my love of churches interesting if not odd. However, old churches are where some of the best art and architecture are to be found. Yours looks wonderful!

Pro tip to John’s other readers in the northeast: don’t do any sleuthing to find out more details like how much this cost. You really, really don’t want to know. (Whimpers something about just four years’ of my rent payment.)

Awesome purchase! Our friends in Pleasant Hill bought the old Church of God (formerly Church of the Brethren) and have been living in it/renovating it. Contact Matt and Kristen Gray (through their Level MB company or facebook) to get ideas!

Three things:

First, the fate of the church reminded me of the church we went to when I was a kid in a small town in Minnesota. It was a small Lutheran church and it was across the street from our house. There was a Pastor house for it next door. Recently, I looked it up and it’s still there but the Pastor house was sold. The congregation is smaller and another church in town merged with it (and the other church was sold). Sad, but I guess that’s the way it is in small town USA.

Two, like you said, you are now in that tier of authors with idiosyncratic real estate purchases. Still a long way from George R.R. Martin territory since he not only owns a theater and a museum (Meow Wolf) but now he owns a train! I don’t think he owns a six-neck guitar so you have that.

Three, a question: Will that building require routine maintenance? Or will you hire a person to do that? (OK, that was two questions).

The sign out front looks like a continuing opportunity for announcements and/or brief commentary with varying levels of snark. I look forward to seeing photographs, à la “All dogs go to heaven” and so on.
Regards the room and how it gets used, maybe notables coming visiting Dayton can stop by for readings and book-signings.

Nice!

I have a passion for “converted” architecture. People who’ve turned Berlin power plants into techno clubs and water towers, churches, and gas stations into homes are, by definition, cool.

Hope we get to see the intended long-term use.

Ooh, does it have a bell?

………..But did your church ever spend years as a Tibetan place of worship that just missed hosting the Dali Lama?

Our church did.

Your building was indisputably an American Christian church. Whereas ours, built as a small Lutheran church in the Depression, looks more like a grange hall tacked onto the back of a Craftsman bungalow. In this annex it’s just big flat open space, perfect for hosting dance parties (contra dance, square dance, English country dance). Meanwhile we are remodeling the bungalow side to live in.

Ours is in Portland, Oregon, about 5 miles northeast of downtown, a block from a major bus line.

As a born-and-raised apatheist, I’m rather glad ours lacked towers and stained glass and all that lot. Or else, as an anglophile, I envy those things. Not sure which.

Someone asked if Arlo Guthrie bought a church. He did! It is now “The Guthrie Center at The Old Trinity Church.” Not far away is another former church that has been converted into a breathtakingly comprehensive and modern recording studio.

…And now I’m giving John ideas, aren’t I?

So it’s 80 years old. What was there before? Perhaps a Native American burial ground that was built atop a place where the crop-circle alien crashed (not all of them made it back home, you know). So when you’re at your new organ and “the voices” start suggesting new ideas (literary AND musical), write ’em down.

Have to admit, I didn’t have this on my Scalzi bingo card. Could make for a nice visual arts center. Would be some interesting opportunities for large scale works in the main chapel space. Very curious to see what you actually use this for.

Wow! cool dude! I’ve always wanted to own a de-consecrated church! (it IS de-consecrated, right?? :) )
Do all the fittings and furnishings such as the Organ and Pews come with it? because, like, that’s another eccentric musical instrument purchase there!.

As for who buy a fraction of a church, I nearly did! Was looking for a condo. And near were I wanted to buy there was a church with a similar ending to yours (not enough people, got merge elsewhere). But a contractor bought it, and convert it to condo. So yes, you can (and people have) buy part of a church.

In Bradford-on-Avon, we stopped in at the tourist bureau. They said we should go see the old church, but that it’s also worth seeing the new church, which is Norman. Yours is … a bit newer.

I’ve got an electric guitar that looks about like that, except for being natural wood color instead of painted. Fun to play!

Congratulations! I hope your new acquisition does what you need it to and gives all the Scalzis joy. But be warned, the whole starting a new millennial religion is Right. Off. The. Table–or the tabernacle, as the case may be. Bacon Cat would not be amused, and that won’t be pretty….

I also googled around for it, and wow, even at list price that is way less than I would have expected a whole building of that size to go for, even one that would need structural work done to convert it into not-a-church. Assuming you need to, of course, since we don’t know what you guys wanted office/storage space yet. Y’all got a good deal there. Excited to see what you use it for!

Dear Mr. Scalzi:

I have to admit, I cannot quite picture WHAT plans you would have for the use of a church building, though I suppose that there would be enough space to set up a small business. I cannot help but wonder, since you have already said that you have no intention of creating your own religion, just what your intentions are.

I like you, as a crazy entertainer (writer), but … there are times when I definitely feel that the proper conclusion must be that you are at least a bit crazier than I am (and THAT is saying something).

Sincerely,

Niall C. Shapero

Somebody bought the AME church down at the end of my block a while back. When they took possession, they put a sign out front notifying the neighborhood that they were “Under New Deities.”

Also, with regard to cigar box guitars, they can be pretty awesome:

When we were touring Ireland after the 2019 WorldCon, we found a deconsecrated cathedral in Sligo Town that had been transformed into the public library. I thought that was a most fitting way for a house of worship to evolve.

It is likely to be a bit pricey to bring those cement stairs in line with current ADA regs, but it’s a really pretty building nonetheless. And I am sure that you and Krissy factored that cost into your calculations along with whatever other renovations you plan.

Have fun, and I look forward to updates!

Nice looking building, and a bargain if my Google searches are to be believed! :)

Looks like you have a lot of space there and I am thinking a bookstore, some offices and storage, and maybe even some kind of performance venue (that stage looks pretty good!) And I’m thinking some kind of annual Scalzi jubilee with its own specialist venue now :)

A building like a church, can in a case like this end up being cheap because it has some disadvantages. It’s got spaces that are big and awkward for most businesses to utilize, and maintenance costs that go with them. Like the high ceilinged cathedral, lots of wasted cubic footage if you were using it as office or living space, that costs money to heat. The large dated kitchen most businesses wouldn’t use, etc. It’s great that you’ve found a match for your needs.
If it was in a different area, someone would have bought if only to tear it down or close to that to make it into a completely different space to rent out for far more money.

Fair warning — the stained glass looks beautiful, but it’s not known for insulating value. If the church hadn’t already put clear glass on one or both sides of those windows to block drafts (and being a Midwest congregation, they may have), you might want to consider it.

Hope you and Krissy have an easy time renovating this into whatever your future plans call for.

With apologies to California Dreaming:
I stopped into a church
that Scalzi bought today.
Well, I got down on my knees
but it was not to pray….
(complete this as you see fit)

Gonna confess, I did NOT see that one coming. Church renovations are always interesting, it’s tough to do anything with the sanctuary other than a meeting/performance space without spending a ton of money, but the rest of the building usually already comes with office space, meeting rooms, storage space, restrooms, often kitchen space, there’s a number of directions you can go with that. Nice.

Congrats (again) on the purchase. Can’t wait to see what you’ll do with it. If the guitar pose a hint?

True story, while house hunting we looked at two historic churches for sale. Unfortunately both had structural issues, and I wasn’t as handy or versed in construction as I am now (or we might have bought the one). It would have made an awesome living space.

well, I, too, was going to mention what Arlo Guthrie has done w/Alice’s former residence/church; the now Guthrie Center in Great Barrington, MA, is a wonderful part of the local community- and, in fact, IS a community center now. Good luck, and, well, damn! How absolutely cool!

There is here in the Northwest a chain of brewpubs (McMenamin’s) that’s made a practice out of buying interesting older properties and converting them into brewpubs (and sometimes movie theaters and hotels, or combined brewpubs/theaters/hotels); I think a handful of churches are among the sites they’ve developed over the years. So there is certainly precedent for converting classic church buildings for business use. It would not therefore surprise me if you got into the brewpub/theater business, though it’s certainly not your only possible objective.

As to possible Scalzi-led theological ventures, I’d propose:

The Order of the Folded Tortilla

# The Society of Canonical Baconians
# The Sacred Shrine of the Ukuleles of Chaos
# The Rational Order of Scientifically Wise, Esoteric, & Loyal Logicians
(aka the ROSWELLs)

Given that the Proprietor’s politics don’t match the local community’s demographics, may I suggest — on many levels indeed — the Church of the Poisoned Mind? And it looks like it has better acoustics than wherever Culture Club recorded that anyway.

hmmm… not-so-secret lair from which to plan your next attempt to conquer the world? for sure you’d need one mega big space for the control center & telecommunications hub with twelve foot high screens for displaying orbital intercepts of your NonJewishSpaceLasers… if I was still in my forties I’d try renting it from you for a kick-arse-jam-session beer-bash-and-barbeque…

…just gonna slow-kill me not knowing what you’ll be doing with it

At this point I have the general impression you didn’t sleep for 30 hours and then bought a church, but I suppose I must have misunderstood the order of events. Though there’s an element of plausibility to that. I recall something of that sort in an old Dilbert cartoon, involving the intervention of an Inca monkey god.

Anyway, carry on, Mr. and Mrs. Church Lady.

Congratulations!
Can’t wrap my head around why someone who has 20 DUNAMS* YARD would need more space…. perspective is everything!

Dunam = 1000 square meters ~ 1/4 acre

I am deeply coveting your lectern. Lectern-envy in fact.

My wife is a UK Baptist Minister-in-Training*, and I’ve wanted to get her a lectern for sooo long.

Not like your bonkers Westboro lot – uk Baptists do weird things like help refugees, and run homeless shelters, and groups to support new parents’ mental health, wacky stuff like that.

140+ comments in and nobody has made a “The Methodist ghosts have formed a Nomination Committee in order to select an Exploratory Discussion Committee which will address the possibility of forming a Scalzi Human Relations Committee” joke? I confess myself disappointed. (Grew up Methodist, so I’m allowed, per the Self-Deprecation Committee.)

Neat! I love it when old buildings are repurposed, instead of bulldozed. I my city, a large church is now a community Town Hall, that hosts readings, small concerts, lectures by smart people, art fairs , as well as office space for various small non profits. Since you are already a corporation, you could probably write off the space as business facility, and events as charitable contributions. Etc. As I’m sure you (and Krissy) know. 😁

If they were Methodist ghosts, they’d be polite, but the incessant hymn singing would possibly drive you bonkers.

Also, you did increase your allotment of musical instruments- various guitars, the Beast, a bass or two, keyboards, that box guitar thing, and one giant bell.

Is it haunted?

Whenever I get the hankering to search-up old church properties, my wife is always completely agains’t the idea…

“It will be haunted” she says.

Why I inevitably proclaim!

No one actually dies in the church – sure, they host funerals, maybe even an associated cemetary. But – aren’t ghosts supposed to haunt the place they died? What are the rules, really?

First Assembly Of The Bacon Cat as the new name of the church works for me. So questions:

Will the space be used to allow traveling authors to do readings there?
Can part of it be converted into a concert space or even a community meeting room for, say, gay/straight alliances?
Would the place be available to women’s groups who want to provide abortion information or services?

John you are looking fit and trim in the photo, no hibernation fat on you. Good job!

As many people have said, “Pipe Organ!” the mind reels with the possibilities.

The curved pews are wonderful, I bet you can resell them.

Stain glass windows are beautiful, will they stay or go?

Replacing the stain glass windows, with scenes from the Old Man’s War series and/or themed with your new endeavors.
.

The great Leon Russell, Master of Time and Space, bought a church in Tulsa, Oklahoma where he recorded (he also had his own record label, Shelter). And he called the place… The Church Studio. The place fell into disrepair through the years but has recently been bought by a fan and is now restored and is going to be a museum to Leon and also a recording studio again. You can look it up! It’s a really cool building and really cool idea.

Congrats on your purchase of a building that was formerly a church. Church buildings are great, they often have ‘character’ in their architecture (otherwise lacking in other available spaces), come with spaces designed for an audience and main space with good acoustics (often with separate/ dedicated office and/or living space) as mentioned above …great for a music/ small theatre venue, or a pub (or coffeeshop) with a stage, for a comedy club, or poetry slams or what have you- good luck with whatever venture you had in mind

I like it! Well done!

In Tulsa, we have the Church Studio, a church Leon Russell purchased and converted to a recording studio. Much local history. Purchased and renovated recently. Had I the means, and talent, I know I would have cheerfully purchased it! Wish you well!

Well, you could convert the belfry in that bell tower, to a bat sanctuary. Good for the environment, your community ( bats eat lots of mosquitoes ), and having read several of your books, I can of nothing more appropriate for your new acquisition.

You do know that it will be called “the old Methodist Church” with “on Church Street” appended if more clarification is needed for at least the next decade. At least locally….

(The Free Methodist Church down the road sold their facility to a group of Buddhist monks 15 years ago, and despite the sign out front, most people still call it the ‘the monastery where the Free Methodist Church used to be’. Heck, the new high school was built over 20 years ago, and it’s only in the last 5 years or so that people have stopped referring to the old one as “the old high school”. :) Small towns are fun.)

A Methodist ghost will likely be haunting the kitchen, cooking or serving food, or cleaning up after a meal.

Do the Methodists have to do some sort of rite to de-sanctify a church? Is it still holy ground? Basically, what I’m getting at here is: When Duncan Macleod shouts, “There can be only one!” and attacks him, will John Scalzi fight back? Or does he wait for the The Highlander to be struck down by a bolt of lightning?

This whole “Oops, I bought a church by accident” ploy may be just a clever way for Scalzi to dispatch his rivals via divine retribution.

“Spotty at best”….ugh i wish….scientology has made tons of money….maybe you SHOULD start one to counter the effects of the damage the others have caused.

Okay, I’m so late to the party that I know this suggestion is likely to be lost/unread, but…hear me out.

So, you live at the Scalzi Compound, right?
Clearly, this place needs to be the Scalzi Complex.
As a writer and therefore de facto grammar nerd, it’s perfect.

Congragulations!

Might I point out that one of the greatest of all ecclesiastical buildings–the Parthenon in Athens–is a temple to Athena?

In connection with which, I’m groping here for some segue to “having lost its (or your) marbles,” but it just won’t come…

Also, I don’t know if the church is haunted, but I shudder to think what might be living in some of those couches in the basement.

Wow! #lifegoals
How have so few people in the comments mentioned those windows? I love stained glass, and these are quite lovely. The outside architecture and brick are really nice, too. And it has a balcony, curved pews, and an organ. This place really has it all, lots of character. Hope you’ve got nice plans.

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