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Meet the woman who transformed this former Dayton church into an artist’s dream home

Sharon Middelchylde’s favorite holiday is Halloween.

It was her favorite holiday when she constructed a fake cemetery in her old backyard on Fairview Avenue, and it’s still her favorite as she celebrates in her current home that just happens to have an accompanying cemetery.

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“Halloween ... It’s kind of my thing,” Middelchylde said.

Four years ago, Middelchylde’s friend told her about an abandoned church for sale on Wagner Ford Road. After an initial tour of the property, she thought “Bing!”

A contract was signed the very next day, and she was the proud new owner of a former Methodist and Pentecostal church. 

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Middelchylde stands with one of her favorite creations. Although she worked in the health care field in Dayton for many years, creating art has always been second nature to the owner of the Wagner Ford Rd. home. (Sarah Franks)

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As soon as the rain-soaked carpets that used to adorn pew aisles were ripped out and the pews themselves were hauled away, Middelchylde began the transformation. Initial renovations and repairs weren’t easy. But even then the work was enjoyable, because she dreamed of opening

The endeavor, however, was something she realized she didn’t want to begin at the age of 65. She knew it was time to sell.

“It needs to be something for somebody,” Middelchylde said. “For just one person to live here — seems like a waste.”

Showing me around her on-the-market home — wearing a brown corduroy pant and jacket combo that could only be found by your coolest auntie at her favorite thrift shop — it was clear that Middelchylde has spent the last four years pouring her personality into every corner of the place. 

A wall painted entirely by Sharon Middelchylde. (Sarah Franks)

“You’d have to pay me to go to a mall,” Middelchylde said. “I’d rather hang dry wall or something like that.” 

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It’d be easy to imagine the home being scattered with random thrift finds placed haphazardly until the space seemed complete. The reality was that every room seemed decorated with purpose and care. Years of perusing Craigslist for out-of-the-ordinary freebies, thrift shopping and even creating her own original art has made the Wagner Ford Road home a space that could inspire creativity in the most tired of minds. 

(Positive Perceptions Photography)

Alice Jane, Catarina and Matilda, Middelchylde’s three dogs, seem to enjoy the 5,272 sq. ft. home as much, if not more, than their owner. In addition to the lucky trio, two cats also share the home— and maybe a friendly spirit or two. 

Middelchylde and her puppy, Matilda.

“There’s nothing here that’s mundane. I can tell you that. Never mundane. In ways that I didn’t anticipate or had ever imagined,” Middelchylde said.

She recounted a few instances of hearing the sound of a man stomping off his snow boots, clomping down the stairs and then going silent. Despite any energy Middelchylde has felt, she said she has never felt more safe in her life. 

“I hope the right person comes along and buys it. If not, I’ll just stay here and open a spooky bed and breakfast ... It’s the very essence of the place that’s going to sell it,” Middelchylde said. “Not the commercial value. It will just be someone that fits. That it fits.”

(Positive Perceptions Photography)

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