Life Restoration Church. Photo courtesy of Patrick Donlin.

Patrick Donlin has spent years renovating properties in East Dallas to save them from demolition.

He’s done about 30 so far, including an old church.

He heard about the property from a local real estate agent. Located at 400 Graham Ave. near the Santa Fe Trail, the Life Restoration Outreach Ministry property included a duplex in addition to the church building.

It took about 10 months for Donlin’s team to transform the 2,300-square-foot building into a four-bedroom, three-bathroom home. It’s the largest property Donlin has ever worked on.

The main line to the sewer wasn’t set up properly, which had to be fixed. Since the church had been vacant, the windows were boarded up and broken and needed repairs.

Another challenge Donlin hadn’t faced before came with the layout of the building. Other homes he renovates already have hallways and other interior walls to divide rooms. But with the church, Donlin had to do some reconfiguring to make it feel like a home.

They were able to salvage the pews and are repurposing them as seating at the Chuckwagon Park food truck park. There was a baptistry, too, but they couldn’t save it. Other than that, the only remaining items from the church were Bibles and some office supplies.

Donlin, the founder of Mr. D Real Estate Group, says the property is now being rented by four Woodrow Wilson alumni. He adds that many of the homes spanning more than 2,000 square feet that feed into Woodrow are often expensive. With this property, he wanted to have an attractive residence at a reasonable price point for people associated with the neighborhood school.

The average rental rate for Donlin’s houses is $1,650 per month, with three years being the typical rental length.

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