A heritage building which once housed the Seventh Day Adventist congregation in Kamsack has been totally transformed into a unique, well-appointed single family dwelling.
The structure, located on the corner of Park Street West and Fort Pelly Avenue, has a rich history, but began to take on a whole new life when it was purchased by Patz McMillan, formerly of Vancouver, in 2015.
“I moved to Kamsack to help take care of my mom, Dorothy McMillan, who had moved to Kamsack around 2009,” she said. “I was living in Vancouver, and running my own real estate business, but health issues forced me take a step back from my fast-paced, high-stress lifestyle. My mom needed help, so I moved here.”
No longer working in the real estate business, Patz engaged in a pastime she enjoyed and knew well, that of playing poker. After she took a second-place win in a World Poker Tour championship held in Calgary, she began buying some properties in Kamsack.
“The vacant Church was the first property I purchased,” she said. “I walked in and saw the open-concept plan and vaulted ceiling and I immediately saw the potential. I was hooked.”
She purchased the building, but it was uninhabitable. In order to begin making renovations, she purchased the house next door, so she could live nearby and begin work.
“Both houses needed work, so I was actually renovating them both at the same time,” she said. “The Church was the much larger project.”
The building had been vacant for a number of years, had been boarded up and was only used as storage. The last services for the Seventh Day Adventist congregation had been held in the mid-to-late 1990s.
According to information found in the local history book, Spinning Stories, A Woven History, Veregin resident Nick Mandzuk, who was a member of the Kamsack Adventist congregation which held Sabbath services in the Kamsack Elks’s Hall, was working up in Flin Flon, Man., in 1979 when he received a jar of fruit from his wife Lydia, back home. The jar was wrapped in an issue of the Kamsack Times. Inside the pages, Mandzuk spotted an advertisement offering a church building for sale at Hampton.
The building had been constructed soon after the First World War for a Greek Orthodox congregation who later sold it to the United Church. By 1979, it had stood vacant for many years. The Kamsack Adventists entered a bid on the building, which was accepted by the trustees.
The building arrived in Kamsack during August of 1979, and it was placed on the corner lot of Park Street West and Fort Pelly Avenue which had been purchased from Massay Podovilnikoff, the information continued.
Thus began numerous renovations to the church, it said, adding that the wood-panelled sanctuary bore witness to some “fine workmanship.” Nick Mandzuk and Nick Baulin were responsible for much of the work.
The congregation brought worshippers from Pelly, Togo, Veregin and Kamsack, but the Church services drew to a close before the turn of the century. The building was sold to local carpenter Paul Bloudoff, and later to Glen Boychuk.
It was from Boychuk that McMillan bought the building and began the major renovation project.
“I began with stripping the interior walls down to the outside walls,” she said. “There were wood shavings inside, and two-by-four construction. I built it up to two-by six construction and insulated the walls with fiberglass batts.
“The ceiling has been insulated with blown-in insulation, and all new double-pane windows installed. The house stays warm in winter and cool in summer. I purchased an air-conditioner, but have never had to use it.”
McMillan admits it was a challenge to find the right trades people to help with some of the bigger jobs. One huge job was having to re-pour the foundation on three corners. “It was intense, and expensive, but I am so happy with the results.”
Finding the right electrician to rewire the entire building was also “interesting,” she said, due to the height of the vaulted ceiling. The entire yard needed landscaping, which she did, along with building the six-foot privacy fence. Some exterior touchups still need finishing.
“I’ve learned so much from this project, I feel I could tackle any renovation challenge in the future,” she said. “Just learning to operate the machine to blow-in insulation was a learning experience, one of many.”
Recently the house was put up for sale.
“I renovated this house for myself, adding all the amenities that I wanted in a home,” she said. “I really hate putting it on the market, because this has been a project of love.
“Unfortunately, Kamsack is so far removed from the tournaments which I wish to be able to access, so I made the decision to leave the community.
“I get excited when I see properties with historic significance being transformed beyond their original intention, instead of being torn down or left to disrepair,” said Nikki Puterbaugh, realtor and listing agent with Cottenie and Gardner. “The last time I sold a church building in was in 2013, when I sold the Peace Lutheran Church on Wallace Street here in Kamsack. It has been transformed beautifully into what is now a thriving business, Average Joe’s gym, and is another great example of how a fresh vision can breathe life into a building that may have reached the end of the road as far as its original use.
“I’ve added so many unique, personal touches to this home. I will be so sad to leave,” McMillan said.
Some of the features this house boasts includes the loft master bedroom which overlooks the main floor, all new wiring updated to 220, the 18-foot vaulted ceiling in the living room, all new plumbing throughout, remote-controlled ceiling fans and a custom-built “dream kitchen” with high-end porcelain tile countertops and bar seating with a custom cedar copper-inlay bar counter.
McMillan displays pride in the fact that she was able to utilize a good portion of the original wood in the building, to preserve the building’s character. “The richness of the heritage wood combined with all the new upgrades of a modern home definitely give this place the ‘Wow’ factor,” she concluded.
More photos of the transformation of this “church building turned home” may be found at www.cottenieandgardner.com.