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New life: Former Vidalia church transformed into event space

Sisters Shannon Probst, left, and Stephanie Weeks are co-owners of The Gables, a new event venue in Vidalia at the building that was once the Apostolic Life Tabernacle on Carter Street.  (Sam Gause/The Natchez Democrat)

Sisters Shannon Probst, left, and Stephanie Weeks are co-owners of The Gables, a new event venue in Vidalia at the building that was once the Apostolic Life Tabernacle on Carter Street. (Sam Gause/The Natchez Democrat)

 

VIDALIA — Six months ago, it was a building so swallowed up by trees and shrubbery many people didn’t even know it had once been a church.

Now, two local sisters have transformed the building into what they hope will be Vidalia’s top event venue.

Sisters Stephanie Weeks and Shannon Probst recently opened The Gables in what once was the Apostolic Life Tabernacle.

The building, though it occasionally played host to a funeral or special ceremony, had not functioned as a church with regular services for a number of years, and the property around it had fallen into decline.

When Probst and Weeks’ father bought the property — he owned the Carter Street frontage that surrounded it — the initial consideration was to tear down the building, two houses and trailers that came with it, Weeks said.

But when they went into the church building, the family found at least one feature appealing — dark, wood grain ceilings and support beams.

“When I walked in the first time, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I didn’t know it could be so beautiful in here,’” Probst said.

When the sisters took over the building it was a mess because it had sat dormant for a long time. They gutted the building, but kept the wood ceilings close to what they were when the building was still a church. At top, Until six months ago, the building, which is now The Gables, was covered in trees and shrubbery. (Sam Gause/The Natchez Democrat)

When the sisters took over the building it was a mess because it had sat dormant for a long time. They gutted the building, but kept the wood ceilings close to what they were when the building was still a church. At top, Until six months ago, the building, which is now The Gables, was covered in trees and shrubbery. (Sam Gause/The Natchez Democrat)

As the family held onto the property, the idea of an event venue evolved out of the discussions of what they should do with it, Weeks said.

“We decided we wanted to have something the community could use that was affordable and pretty enough that you (as a customer) didn’t have to spend a lot of money to make it pretty,” she said.

Making it pretty was the biggest part of the project.

While the wood ceilings needed little more than a good coat of varnish, the rest of the building needed work.

The main space, what was once the nave of the church, was covered in shag carpet. The walls were dark brick and the only light that came into the building came from a large Plexiglas stained-glass window.

The brick walls were lined with lights designed to look like old-fashioned lanterns.

“It really looked like a dungeon,” Probst said.

The first step was to wall in the window, which was cracked, faded, had leaks and had lost any of the beauty it may have held.

Next, they covered the brick with drywall and painted it white before installing new, contemporary lighting.

“We wanted it to be kind of rustic, kind of modern,” Weeks said.

The sisters also removed an overhanging balcony and narrow spiral staircase that crowded the building’s main entrance, and finished a portion of the ceiling that had never been completed over the balcony.

“We had to remove the balcony because nobody was going to want to walk in with it there,” Weeks said. “I could reach up and touch it with my hand. (A tall person) would bump (their) head on it.”

With the main space opened and brightened, the new owners then opened a door from the former nave into a kitchen area. Formerly, those inside the building would have had to walk outside to enter the kitchen.

The fully functional kitchen has a bar inside that can be moved to allow those who rent the space to set up where they need it. The building also has two showers onsite.

Though some of the auxiliary buildings on the property have been removed, one of the houses has been partially kept and will be restored to serve as a bridal room with a shower and a lounge area for those who want to use the space for weddings, Weeks said.

Renting the building also comes with tables and chairs.

“When we rent it, we don’t have any other stipulations that come along with it,” Weeks said. “Some places require that you use their caterer or their florist, but we don’t have any requirements like that.”

Rental of The Gables comes with an hourly rate during the week and a set rate during weekends.

For more information, contact Weeks at 318-421-0174 or 318-336-5044.

More information can also be found by emailing thegablesvidalia@gmail.com or visiting facebook.com/thegablesvidalia.

 

 

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