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The History of The Old Church

by Magnolia
Published on September 21, 2020

The Silos is our homebase here in Waco, Texas. When conversations about expanding the Silos grounds began, our team wanted any additions we made to be meaningful and connect back to Chip and Jo's original vision—to create a place where people could come and be inspired by something beautiful and where new experiences would lead to lasting memories.

The pair of old silos that have come to define our grounds are also symbolic of our city and its rich history, and we’ve always loved having that tie to Waco’s past. So we knew we wanted the expansion to include more of our city’s history, including something that could anchor the entire property.

We found that in The Old Church, one of the oldest structures in Waco.

The building’s historical charm isn’t the only thing we’re drawn to. The Old Church holds a unique story of something old being made new—a story that resonates with us time and again.

_photo taken by nick kelley for magnolia journal fall 2018_

We learned about the abandoned church a few years ago when Jo took a drive downtown to clear her head. It can be endearing how, even when we’re not actively looking, there is always beauty somewhere, ready to be discovered. This particular time, it happened to be an old church’s steeple peeking above the trees that caught Jo’s attention.

As she got closer, she was immediately drawn to the building with its white clapboard exterior, scalloped shingles, and cathedral ceilings. Built in 1894, the original church served as a house of worship for almost a century, but eventually closed and remained boarded-up and vacant for over 30 years.

Despite its shattered windows and peeling paint, in that moment Jo saw unwavering potential in this place.

_photos taken by nick kelley for Magnolia Journal  fall 2018_

Chip and Jo agreed that the historic building couldn’t be left to fall apart, so they decided to purchase it. They’ve held onto it for years, patient and expectant for its new purpose to become clear.

_Rendering image provided by David Nisbet, AIA with CP&Y Architecture_

And now, we’re excited to give The Old Church a new purpose at the Silos! We hope this building serves as an inspiring part of your experience—one that as you pass through allows you to pause, reflect, and behold the beauty of a place with such a rich and meaningful history.

_Rendering image provided by David Nisbet, AIA with CP&Y Architecture_

Like any renovation, this project included plenty of unexpected pivots. Here’s a glimpse of the journey we took to bring this old building back to life.

Once we decided that we wanted The Old Church to make its new home on the Silos grounds, Chip and Jo learned that the existing foundation and rotted framing were not structurally sound enough to make the move.

So while a brand new frame and foundation were built at the Silos, the historical elements that could be preserved were relocated piece by piece and incorporated back into the design, including the interior flooring, wainscoting, corbels, beams, trimwork, pews, and a good portion of the exterior siding and lattice work. Because the old windows were disintegrating, new replicas were made that honored their original beauty.

Here’s a look inside The Old Church, mid-renovation, on the Silos grounds:

We can’t wait for you to step inside and take in all the beauty this place has to offer. Learn more about each project of the expansion plan here:

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