The day after we left the zoning meeting with the Spartanburg Co. people, Tami went home and started crunching numbers. She wanted to see if we made all of the changes, including adding the "motel", to the place in Campobello what that final cost would be, and more importantly, what would that monthly mortgage payment look like. The easiest place to find a mortgage calculator online is Realtor.com. It was when she went onto this web page that she noticed--without even searching--a rather large, piece of property, for sale in Sunset. Upon further inspection, she immediately emailed the property to Keith and said, "We've got to look at this ASAP."
Although we haven't mentioned it in the other blog posts, besides St. Therese, and some other saints, we have always been big fans of St. Joseph. Especially Keith. As the patron saint of real estate, we've been praying to him regularly. He's been our constant companion, especially as we've been considering the feasibility of doing this and supporting our family.
So we called our South Carolina realtor, Susan, and scheduled a tour.
Each time we visited we "discovered" something new. Once it was a complete chapel! Another time, a tiny house. This last time, we found a weight room with Nautilus equipment.
But first a brief history--and it's much more complicated than this. A long time ago--in the 90s, it was a reform camp/school for girls run by a Baptist couple. Before that, in the 50's this beautiful stone house on a lake was built and owned by a professional tennis player. The Baptist couple sold it in a few years ago to another organization that runs homes for children. This organization leased it out to another organization who was running a home for Foster children. This last organization had serious money problems, and also, was being chased out of town from the people of Pickens county who did not approve of their methods of reform. With all kinds of tax evasion, and bankruptcy problems, they were forced to sell. Their misfortune was fortunate for us.
Many of the buildings were ready to "go." Others, however, were in terrible disrepair. But the potential of everything we wanted for a great retreat center were there:
The first time we visited, there was no power--in fact it took quite a few visits before we could convince the power company to turn the power back on. (They were owed money.) But in December, when it was a little chilly and no power, we were wondering through all of these spaces in the dark, with only the flashlights on our phones. One space in the gymnasium was particularly dark. (You never know what you will find when you open a door--especially as these spaces have no windows. As we opened one door, we saw a shadow of something or someone sitting on a chair. As we shone the light on it, this is what we saw:
In a Baptist camp--we found a statue of St. Joseph! Amazing!
Of course when we went back later to look with electricity, we saw Mary, too. This St. Joseph was part of a nativity scene. But why was he propped on the chair eagerly greeting us?
After more trips to this place with family and friends, we decided to make an offer on the place. This was the biggest Christmas present we ever bought for each other.
Although we hoped to close in January or February, because of the uniqueness of the property, the financial mess the seller was in, the extra taxes, the extra insurance, and all the other red tape--it took a lot longer to close than expected. Our final closing date was just the other day--the day after March 19th--the Feast of St. Joseph. (It was supposed to be on the 19th but pushed back one more day--close enough!)
Stay tuned as the journey continues!