The main sanctuary.

Having a wedding or event of historic proportions? At least historic from your perspective?

Then, Susan Pullen-Swope has just the historically significant venue.

Louisville-based entrepreneur Pullen-Swope has just opened The Marcus Lindsey after a year of renovating the converted, desanctified Victorian church sanctuary at 801 E. Main St.

In three weeks since The Marcus Lindsey received its certificate of occupancy, her agent already has booked a major event, The BentProp Project convention. The group hunts, recovers and brings home the remains of WWII crews who died when their aircraft were downed in the Pacific.
At least one wedding also is on the books as of this posting.

Pullen-Swope envisions the elaborately paneled and polished space attracting weddings, parties, arts groups, fundraisers – “Anything, really. It’s so versatile.”

Moreover, for those who are religiously ambivalent, but who want the ambiance of stained glass and miles of polished oak, “you can have a church wedding without having to get married in a church,” she said.

The Marcus Lindsey has about 5,200 square feet of space, including the main floor and balcony mezzanine and a 1,600-square-foot, 2-bedroom apartment in the Sacristy that can be used with the events space.

 The Marcus Lindsey joins Louisville’s growing inventory of once-abandoned downtown buildings repurposed into events spaces, including a converted bank (The Gillespie), a converted dry goods store (The Green Building) and a converted ice house (The Ice House).

But Pullen-Swope says The Marcus Lindsey – named after the Rev. Marcus Lindsey, a Methodist preacher –has features and qualities unlike any other space in town.

For one, it’s a National Historic Landmark, the complex dating back to 1898. For another, it’s Louisville’s only urban events space with adjoining urban green space.

Inside what once was the main sanctuary of an Episcopal Methodist church, the Marcus Lindsey has a fire-inspector-imposed 226-person occupancy, though it can comfortably accommodate closer to 400 people, Pullen-Swope said. A mezzanine in the sanctuary seats another 32.

The sacristy has been converted into a 2-bedroom apartment that can be used by wedding parties or groups.

 The apartment has two and a half baths and a kitchen.Outside, Pullen-Swope purchased a quarter-acre lot on the east side of the complex where she’s building a “carriage house” style building that will have storage, gardening sheds and an apartment.

But most of the lot will be preserved as a garden, which will act as a spillover space for the Marcus Lindsey.

Pullen-Swope, who’s married to Pip Pullen-Swope, director of account planning at Red7e advertising firm, bought the abandoned church back in January 2009.

They turned a large section of the 10,000-square-foot-plus complex – about 4,000 square feet – into their home, an ultra-modern, multi-level space that’s been featured in architecture publications and as a stop on downtown home tours.

The coupled debated what would be the best and highest use for the rest of the complex.

When they discussed it with their financial adviser, “he ruled out an events space. He just said, ‘No’ … that it didn’t make financial sense,” Susan Pullen-Swope said. “But when he came to see it, he walks in and he says, ‘Oh, this has to be a special events space!’ He totally changed his mind when he saw it.”

Susan Pullen-Swope calculates the couple has about $2.5 million invested just in the renovation of the main church complex, which includes their home, apartments and the Marcus Lindsey.


The mezzanine.

That doesn’t include another $700,000 in acquiring the garden area, which is scheduled to be complete by April, with landscaping, a pergola and water feature.

Jeff Rawlins, owner of Architectural Artisans in Louisville, is the Marcus Lindsey architect, with an assist from Bittners, Pullen-Swope said. Contractor for the Garden is Tommy Humphries: “He’s been 100-percent delightful to work with so far,” Pullen-Swope said.

Pullen-Swope declined to give exact rental rates, saying only, “We’re competitive.”

The Marcus Lindsey is the latest of a string of new and improved projects on Miracle Mile east of downtown.

First, it was investments in restaurants and businesses as East Market Street rose from the ruins in 2008 under the aegis of Gill and Augusta Holland, Tim Peters, Lois Mateus and other investors.

Then came the retail on East Market, which led directly to the restoration of the church and the creation of the Marcus Lindsey.

“Pip and I were eating one night at (the now defunct) 732 Social. We decided to walk over to Main Street, and we saw the church,” Susan Pullen-Swope said. Her husband had always wanted to convert a church into a home, so they acquired the complex.

“When we bought (the church) in January, 2009, this area was desolate,” Susan Pullen-Swope said. People thought we were crazy.”

Since then East Market Street has become NuLu, and East Main Street has businesses as well, with the entire are poised to become Louisville’s hottest.

“Now, they think we’re brilliant!”