WAVERLY — It’s not until you climb the stairs to the third floor and see the full-length metal lockers, paint peeling off of the walls and a tile floor scuffed by decades of students that you realize the work that has gone into renovating the former Waverly Junior High School building.
Crosspoint Church closed on the old school Oct. 31 of last year, when the entire building — not just the third floor — looked like students had just left. Desks and chairs littered the classrooms. Doors and windows were old and leaky.
Lead Pastor Jonathan Barthalow could see the potential, however.
“For us, as we saw the shell of this building and then saw the design ... I could see that this could be a great space,” he said.
He also knew, if architect Modern Design in Janesville and the many construction teams — as well as hundreds of volunteer parishioners — could pull it off, his church would ultimately save millions of dollars versus building a brand-new mega church.
At least, that was his best guess: Nobody really knew what they’d find when remodeling began on a school built in 1926.
“This building is close to 100 years old,” said Barthalow. “The shell of the building was great, but it needed a lot of cosmetic work.”
That’s putting it mildly. The building’s 63,000 square feet of space, with Crosspoint Church taking over most of it (the rest is being leased to other businesses, offices and a dance studio), needed a new roof, air conditioning, sound system, around 20,000 square feet of new flooring and 250 gallons of paint and counting.
The costs will run right around $1 million when it’s all said and done, Barthalow said, but it’s an investment: Crosspoint was leasing its old church space.
“We knew we wanted to be in Waverly for a very long time, so we wanted to secure a permanent home,” he said.
The school’s old auditorium is now Crosspoint’s sanctuary and focal point, and comfortably seats the 400 churchgoers who frequent Crosspoint on a typical Sunday. Two classrooms on the second floor have been merged and turned into a large cafe area, with administration offices on the first floor now housing offices for the church staff.
But it’s clear Crosspoint — an Assemblies of God denomination — has invested heavily in catering to families with young children.
Several classrooms have been turned into age-specific day care or Sunday school areas — even an area specifically for children with autism or other special needs. Around 100 rotating volunteers care for children during a typical Sunday, with a digital check-in system ensuring each child goes home with the correct adult.
The school’s old gymnasium is slowly being renovated into a giant youth worship area, half of which will be full of games and activities for older children and teenagers.
“This is our final project,” said Barthalow, standing inside the construction area that would become the youth facility within a few weeks. “It’s going to be an incredible space when it’s done.”
The gymnasium’s renovation will probably not be the last project Crosspoint ever does to its building. They’ll be adding parking around the grassy areas of the building now that the weather is cooperating, and the third floor still hasn’t been touched.
Bartholow said he was “grateful that God provided” funding for the project, and that parishioners continued to pitch in for renovations down the road.
“For us to be able to have the amount of square footage we have, and taking a building that people have an emotional connection to ... it’s a win for our community and a win for us as a church,” he said.