TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. - A historic church in Tarpon Springs is getting a makeover.
"I tend to think that something of this nature is very important," Richard Boeckl said.
Boeckl bought the property in 1973. He converted a Sunday school building into apartments and rented out the church to other congregations.
"Until 1993 I was maintaining the building with painting it twice and tenting it and roofing," Boeckl said.
It was the "No Name Storm" of 1993 that started the building's demise. That storm flooded the whole bottom half of the church and destroyed the roof, leaving Boeckl with a tough decision. "At that time I also had three children. My kids were all in college and it was going to be either my children's education or the old building, and I went with my kids," Boeckl said.
In 2011 the city began fining Boeckl for code violations. Since restoring the whole building would be too expensive, Boeckl decided to turn the historic church into a home.
"It's a landmark building," Boeckl's son, Andreas, said.
He is helping manage the project. "She's an old beauty and needs to be brought back to her splendor, and we're going to work to do that," Andreas said.
They will slim the 15,000-square-foot building down to 7,500 square feet of living space. To maintain its historical significance, they plan to keep parts of the building.
"We're keeping this facade and the bell tower that's behind it," Andreas said.
They plan to also use new technology like structural insulated panels to cut energy costs.
"It's going to be very traditional on the outside, but it's going to be kind of modern on the inside," Boeckl said.
Construction should take about a year to complete, turning the old church into a home the Boeckls can enjoy for generations to come.
"Hopefully the next generation of Boeckls will be playing on these very steps," Andreas said.