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Historic Ardenwald Church With International Flair
Property features
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  • 5 bedrooms
  • 4 bathrooms
Property description
Historic Ardenwald Church & Parsonage With International Flair

When one speaks of a home that has soul, it's often because the people who reside in it bring a peaceful presence to the space. But when it's said that the home at 3135 SE Van Water Street in Milwaukie, Oregon, has soul, it's because of its colorful history as Queen Anne/Victorian-style church built in 1892 which became an artist colony in the 1960s and is now a showcase for, maybe, the nation's most extensive private collection of Moroccan architectural treasures. Every square foot of this wonderfully eclectic home has a story!

The property consists of three adjoining lots. On one lot, you'll find the church which currently serves as the property's main residence as well as a lower level apartment that has been used as an in-laws suite and a vacation rental. The parsonage building next door, on the second lot, has two guest apartments that are also rented for short- and long-term vacations. The third lot is the shared back gardens.

As you arrive at the property, which consists of the 4,579 sq. ft. church, the 2,967 sq. ft. parsonage and their adjoining gardens, you get but a small glimpse of what is beyond the tall privacy fence and behind the historic Moroccan doors that serve as gates. The tall, mature trees that surround the property provide incredible privacy, adding to the mystery and allure of this urban sanctuary.

The Church

As you pass through the gate, you're immediately enveloped by the true artistic nature of the property. Tucked between the lush landscape of flowering shrubs, ferns and trees is a bounty of garden jewelry - authentic Moroccan lanterns, statues, delicate wind chimes, sculptures, water features, fire pits, Moroccan wrought iron windows, and more. All were collected throughout the years with the intent to create a paradise where hidden treasures await you at every turn. Great thought and care were taken in the gardens to create magical gathering spaces where guests would want to linger and enjoy their stay.

Columns made from antique olive presses and Moroccan furniture have transformed the church's porch into a welcoming entrance with international flair. When you open the front door to the foyer, with its terra cotta tile floor, beautifully carved furniture and stunning Moroccan doors, you'll feel as though you've stepped into a different land. As you enter the home you know you're in a place of enchantment, where time slows down and you can experience a different culture, one that values art, tradition and above all, happiness.

The foyer leads to the home's kitchen and dining room that features tall windows, a vaulted ceiling, and a magnificent antique dining table that fits the style of the home perfectly - and will happily stay in the home if you wish. The kitchen opens to the home's main living room, a two-story space that was once the church's sanctuary. With the original pulpit that now serves as a stage for a grand piano and many of the original stained glass windows, the room is a visual cornucopia of colors, pattern and textures. Light fixtures from a palace in Fez, Morocco, antique molded tin ceiling tiles in a lotus flower motif, intricately-carved Moroccan architectural pieces, and a stunning pair of double-paneled camel doors are just a few of the delights your eyes will be drawn to.

A staircase with three-inch-thick wood treads leads up to the former choir loft, now a sitting area or home office, where you'll find fabulous antique chandelier. The loft offers a spectacular view of the living room below. Open the camel doors in the living room either through the smaller people entries or the full 12-foot camel entries to reveal an additional living space with tall ceilings donned with lotus tin tiles, original stained glass windows, and more beautiful antique accoutrements. A custom spiral staircase leads up to a sleeping loft/den with a beautiful wrought iron window that looks down on the dining room. From here you can access the choir loft; the main bathroom, located in the old bell tower, with its walk-in shower with tongue-in-groove cedar walls and loft with a clawfoot tub; and the stairs to the master bedroom. As with each space in the home, the staircase that leads to the master bedroom has an intriguing history. Its supporting columns are made from Nomadic tent posts. These intricately carved posts date back hundreds of years and cannot be replicated today.

It is interesting to note that the hundreds of Moroccan architectural pieces that have been lovingly and carefully placed into and around this home, the parsonage building and their gardens were brought from Morocco by the home's owner who lived in Morocco for 25 years as a clothing and jewelry designer. She imported four containers of antique doors, furniture and architectural pieces that were used in ancient palaces and homes in Fez and Marrakech as well as by Berber nomadic tribes. Morocco no longer allows exports of antiques more than 100 years old, so these pieces are true treasures - with one set of camel doors alone estimated to be worth nearly $15,000.

The entire upper floor of the church is now the 1,000 sq. ft. master bedroom. The room's flooring is reclaimed from a gymnasium in Beaverton, Oregon; the original roof rafters are left exposed (the roof has been insulated on the exterior under its metal tiles); and a beautiful, antique arched window-turned-door was placed at the far end, opening to a romantic Juliet balcony that overlooks the gardens. An original circular window near the walk-in closet plus several skylights bring lovely sunshine into this cozy space.

The basement of the church has been turned into an exceptional apartment. With its separate entrance, it is ideal as an in-law suite or vacation rental. Tall ceilings throughout, the space has a large living room with sleeping nook, kitchen, bath, and separate bedroom. More architectural pieces, including chandeliers, doors, wrought iron window grates, and furniture, have been incorporated into the apartment to ensure it has the same wonderful feel as the upper floors.

The home also features a large dressing room with custom built-ins on the main level, a large deck accessed through the living room, a laundry room, and an attached, two-car tandem garage.

The Parsonage

The three-level parsonage building is comprised of two rentable apartments, both of which are regularly occupied by guests. Its charming porch is a lovely place for sitting and enjoying the garden on a sunny afternoon. The front door opens to welcome you into the bright, open living and dining rooms that have been renovated and decorated with the same eclectic international style as the main residence.

Beadboard ceilings, original hardwood floors, a high vaulted alcove with skylight, dual arched entries to the dining area, a brick fireplace, and a custom spiral staircase are just a few of the architectural delights in the first of the two apartments. The fully remodeled kitchen has granite counters, stainless steel appliances, a travertine tile floor, and a gorgeous 17th century Moroccan wrought iron window.

Down the hall is a guest bath that features beadboard on the ceiling, travertine tiles, a large, walk-in shower with a pebble floor, and a beautiful cabinet-style vanity. Through a truncated set of hand-carved camel doors is the apartment's first guest bedroom where the wood ceiling and original hardwood floors pair wonderfully with the antique Moroccan chandelier, carved wood shutters, and antique furniture. French doors open to the parsonage's back deck where a gas fire pit and seating overlook the gorgeous gardens.

The spiral staircase in the dining area winds up to the second bedroom. Tucked into the cozy attic space, the bedroom has exposed trusses, a window looking out to the gardens and a sitting area next to the balcony that looks down to both the living and dining rooms below. The balcony's beautiful railings are handcrafted, wrought iron gates that were handcrafted in Morocco.The downstairs apartment has a private entrance at the side of the parsonage and shares laundry facilities with the upstairs unit.

The main living area in the lower apartment has an open concept and includes the living room, kitchen, dining area, and a sleeping area divided by ornately carved, wood privacy screens. The spacious bedroom has a walk-in closet with petite, antique Moroccan doors. The apartment's bathroom offers guests a very European experience with its travertine tile floor, clawfoot tub, antique cast iron farmhouse sink, and vintage-style lighting.

Each apartment sleeps four and has been successfully marketed as both a vacation rental and longer-term corporate housing.

Boundless Possibilities

Everywhere you turn, you'll see possibilities for this unconventional three-lot property which is zoned commercial. The city of Milwaukie has expressed interest in seeing the property used in a way that will draw visitors to the area.

For a chef or hospitality-minded entrepreneur, the church residence could be turned into a distinctive bistro or restaurant, using the basement as a kitchen and, perhaps, a bar or speakeasy. The two living rooms on the main floor would be ideal as dining rooms, and the acoustics in the former sanctuary are incredible - so having live music would be a must! The church building's decks and many garden patios could serve as delightful outdoor dining options as well. The proprietor could use the master suite as living quarters and continue to rent out the two parsonage apartments, creating a destination experience for guests seeking a one-of-a-kind dining and lodging adventure.

Or perhaps you are an artist or health and wellness teacher seeking a distinctive property for holding retreats. With space to easily sleep 12 or more guests and plenty of room for yoga and meditation practice, art studios, classes, and more, the property is uniquely suited for exclusive or luxury retreats. The basement of the church was used as a pottery studio when artists owned it in the 1960s and has three-phase electric power available so equipment like pottery kilns, pizza ovens, and commercial refrigeration and ranges could be used here.

There is no other property like this in Oregon - or even the world. This is a home for a true dreamer. Whether you are an artist who uses paint, music, food, or words or a person who just appreciates international culture and design, this is a home where you can walk in and add your story to the extraordinary history of this wonderfully special place.
3135 SE VAN WATER ST, Milwaukie, Oregon, United States
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