WACO, Texas (AP) — One of Waco's oldest and most threatened historic churches now belongs to Waco's most famous couple.
The Waco Tribune-Herald reports Chip and Joanna Gaines' Magnolia Vacation Rentals LLC earlier this year bought the abandoned Second Presbyterian Church, near Sul Ross Park on Jefferson Avenue.
The husband and wife star in the popular HGTV show "Fixer Upper."
The Queen Anne-style wooden church, featured in a 2015 Tribune-Herald feature on Waco's most endangered historic buildings, was built in 1894 and has mostly been vacant since 1989. It has a soaring vaulted ceiling, stained glass windows and ornate woodwork inside.
Sterling Thompson, a Waco architect who sold the building to Magnolia in February, said he assumes Magnolia will renovate it and put it to good use.
"They've brought a lot of good things to town and created a lot of business with the things they do," said Thompson, who was architect for the Magnolia Table project.
The old church is a valuable part of Waco's architectural history, said Kenneth Hafertepe, a Baylor University museum studies professor and local preservation expert who is writing a book about historic Waco homes.
"It's an impressive survival to have made it into the 21st century," Hafertepe said. "It has a characteristic church steeple and it's a good example of the Queen Anne style. It's not just mail-it-in Gothic Revival. It does express the interest of Wacoans at the time for keeping up with the times. In terms of architecture it ties in with the style of other Queen Anne houses around Waco."
Queen Anne is a subset of the 19th-century Victorian style, with ornate millwork, decorative shingles and prominent gables.
Hafertepe said he hopes Magnolia will keep the building's key architectural elements.
"From a historic preservation point of view the best thing is for an old building to retain its original use: if it's a church, to have another church come along. If that's not doable, which seems to be the case here, the idea to have it as a wedding facility is about as good as you can hope for. That makes it logical to retain the original floor plan and retain the distinctive features like stained glass windows."