Doors of remodeled church opened to benefit granddaughter

Grand Haven, 600 Washington Ave., Terry and Rene French
Terry and Rene French turned the building at 600 Washington Ave. in Grand Haven, which used to be a Seventh Day Adventist church, tnto their home. (May 25, 2017)

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — It had been a church for more than 100 years, but now it’s a home for a couple in Grand Haven.

Terry and Rene French were looking for the perfect property to restore and they say they had a revelation when they walked through a church at 600 Washington Avenue in Grand Haven.

“To me it means so much to me to know that people got married here, they had baptisms. It was church,” Rene French said.

But now it’s a different kind of sanctuary for the couple.

“What started out as just a fun project became a big part of our life,” Terry French said.

The couple bought the church in November 2013 after it had sat vacant for nearly a year. It took the couple two years to restore and remodel the church.

It was originally built in 1872 as a Second Reformed Church. Then in 1890, it burnt down and was rebuilt on the same foundation. In 1957, it was sold to the Seventh Day Adventists.

The couple made sure to keep its historic bones like all of the colorful stained-glass windows and even turning an old piano they made into a coffee table.

“There was a dozen of 21-foot pews and the stairway is completely built out of them,” Terry French said.

There has been a huge community interest to take a tour of the remodeled church that the couple is opening their doors Saturday for a cause near and dear to their hearts.

Brenna Stearns
An undated courtesy photo of Brenna Stearns.

Their 7-year-old granddaughter Brenna Rene Stearns suffers from Rett syndrome — a neurological disorder. Due to the disorder, she is unable to talk or use her hands.

The open house will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 27. Tickets are $35 and all of the proceeds will go to the Rett Syndrome Research Trust.

“It was just a homerun for us to be able to invite the community to come out and see what we’ve done and to support a great cause,” Terry French said.