John Wurtz, left, and John Staicer, HMI president and executive director, talk about Wurtz’s plans for the former rectory building next door to the St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church. Wurtz and his wife, Maureen, plan to restore the building, turning it into a single family dwelling. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
John Wurtz, left, and John Staicer, HMI president and executive director, talk about Wurtz’s plans for the former rectory building next door to the St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church. Wurtz and his wife, Maureen, plan to restore the building, turning it into a single family dwelling. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
Historic Madison Inc. has sold the St. Michael the Archangel Church rectory to two Madison residents who plan to rehabilitate the building into a private dwelling.

John and Maureen Wurtz recently purchased the building, which was constructed between 1859 and 1860.

The rectory - a Greek revival-style structure with rubble-stone masonry finished with tooled stucco - sits just west of the church at 519 E. Third St.

 St. Michael the Archangel Church was built between 1838 and 1839, and the two-story rectory - which includes a full basement - served as the priests' living quarters. It was vacated in 1932.

John Staicer, president and executive director of HMI, said although the building needs a total interior renovation, the exterior "has good bones."

 "It's a blank canvas," said John Wurtz, a retired financial planner. "Architecturally, it's a magnificent building. It can be stunning."

 Wurtz is a Madison native who retired in 1999. He met his wife in Naples, Fla. The two own properties in both states. He plans to renovate and rearrange much of the interior, using the first and second floors as the living areas.  

The exterior plans include rebuilding an existing porch, constructing a new porch on the west end of the building and redoing the stucco.

The goal is to revitalize the building in hopes that other investors join in to renovate the church and other historic properties in downtown Madison, Wurtz said.

"It's a two-prong plan. One is to turn it into a private dwelling, then other is to create interest in the church," he said.

 There is no completion timeline, as the couple is still looking for the right contractor.

 The sale of the building is part of HMI's larger strategic plan that includes transferring historic properties to private owners capable of renovating and managing the facilities. 

HMI acquired both the rectory and the church as one single property in 1994 from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Since then, Staicer estimates the nonprofit organization has spent between $500,000 and $600,000 in an effort to maintain both facilities.

At the church, crews are currently working to renovate the plaster on the ceiling. At the rectory, HMI has restored the windows, brick chimney and slate roof and even torn out an attachment that was compromising the structural integrity of the building. 

The investments and work have extended the lifespan of both sites, but Staicer said HMI's budget allows only for a "maintenance" presence at the property.

With the strategic plan in place, it just so happened that the Wurtzes walked into the HMI offices this June inquiring about the property.

The couple officially signed the deed on Friday for the final sale, the cost of which was not released publicly. 

Staicer said he was amazed at the pace the sale progressed, adding that the Wurtzes "kind of came along like angels."

"We went 60 to 90 days of not even having it on our radar to transferring it to responsible owners. I think that's pretty good," he said.