In the late 1980s, a dear friend of mine was trying to sell her home in southern California so she could move to New Mexico, where she would become my second-in-command at a federal government training center.
Sadly, there were significant challenges to getting her mobile home sold. Although she was only in her early 40s when she purchased it, her homeowners’ association had thereafter voted to become an active adult community. Now, although her ownership and residence were grandfathered in the new bylaws, she could only sell to someone aged 55 or older.
As you can imagine, the low price of a mobile home attracted many first-time buyers and families with small children. While her agent received dozens of inquiries over several months, not one person qualified to buy the home.
Enter my friend’s Catholic background and a small statue of St. Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus Christ. According to tradition, if you buried his statue upside down in front of your house and prayed for his good will, the house would sell faster. She did, and within a week she had an acceptable offer from a qualified buyer.
Buyers will often want to surround themselves with good vibes. Living in a renovated church, with its spires, stained glass windows and lofty ceilings, is one way to keep in touch with your spiritual self. You only need look as far as Capitol Hill to find quite a few churches that have been converted to condominiums.
For example, Grace Church, an 18-unit condominium located at 350 9th Street, SE and renovated in 1988, led the trend. Mount Joy Baptist Church at 514 4th Street, SE became The Churchill Condominiums in 2017, offering 12 beautiful units for sale.
On the northeast side of the Hill, The Residences at St. Monica’s at 1340 Massachusetts Avenue, NE features nine luxury units. This combination of St. Monica and St. James churches sold out quickly when first offered in 2011.
The Sanctuary, known for inspiration, not immigration, is comprised of 30 units sitting just off Stanton Park at 819 D St., N.E. The largest unit, with 2 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, 2315 square feet and incredible views, sold in 2017 for $1,525,000.
If you find the northwest quadrant of the District more appealing, head to Bishop’s Gate on 16th Street in Logan Circle. This group of 82 townhouse-style condominiums includes the former chapel of a rectory, convent and Catholic school.
Heading further north, you will find The Vintage at 3146 16th St., N.W., once known as Meridian Hill Baptist Church. Now, it offers 85 condominiums near the Columbia Heights Metro station.
And let’s not forget Georgetown’s offering, the Alexander Memorial Baptist Church, built in 1909 and converted into three exquisite units in the Alexander Hall Condominium on the 2700 block of N Street, N.W.
If living in a converted church is not for you, then there are other ways to honor religious traditions and bring a sense of spirituality into your home.
A home with two kitchens, for example, might appeal to an Orthodox Jewish family, whose Kosher customs require that meat and dairy products not be eaten together and that dishes and utensils for preparing and consuming each be kept separately.
A practicing Muslim will likely designate an area that must be kept clean and clutter-free and used solely for prayer. Two copies of the Qu’ran (one in Arabic and one in English), a prayer rug, and decorative boxes or baskets for storing prayer beads, incense sticks, lavender or vanilla scent and more will ready the area for worship.
A Christian prayer closet can be as simple as outfitting a room that is large enough for kneeling with a few pillows, a Bible, a lamp, and a collage or album of photos of people and things you want to honor in prayer and be thankful for.
If you lean toward spirituality rather than organized religion, time spent in a meditation room may help you to de-stress and enjoy private contemplation. Choose a space that faces nature and is well ventilated and decorate it in calming pastels. Add mats or pillows, essence oils and soft, soothing music, but otherwise, make it an electronics-free space. Your sanity may depend on it.
Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland and Virginia and Director of Education & Mentorship at Real Living| At Home. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her at Valerie@DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.