See How a Man Turned an Abandoned Church Into a $200-a-Night Airbnb

When he saw its price drop, he asked for a tour. “I had absolutely no idea what to do with a church,” Rooney said, “but I really wanted to see it.”

Kyle Rooney wears jeans, a plaid shirt, and a dark jacket. He sits on a park bench with his wife and four children. A tree with fall leaves is behind them.

Kyle Rooney, who converted a historic Minneapolis church into an Airbnb, and his family.

Kyle Rooney

The 137-year-old church in South Minneapolis, a few blocks outside the trendy Uptown neighborhood, had been used by Episcopalian and Lutheran congregations.

A church nave and apse with wood walls and ceiling.

The church even served as a furniture store and pipe-organ factory in its history .

Kyle Rooney

In 1927, it became the spiritual home of St. Francis Parish, a Liberal Catholic congregation. But as years passed, the popularity of the Liberal Catholic parish dwindled.

A church nave with wood-clad walls and ceiling and pews pushed to the sides of the walls.

Kyle Rooney

The last service performed in the space was during Easter of 2020. When he toured it that fall, Rooney was in awe of the space.

Kyle Rooney stands wearing a button-down shirt and suit jacket in the nave of the church he bought, standing beside one of the congregation's previous priests.

Rooney with one of the church’s previous priests.

Kyle Rooney

Rooney, who grew up Roman Catholic, then met with Father Richard Curney, who oversaw the parish’s closing. Curney assured him the space was deconsecrated and ready for its next chapter.

A church nave with wood-clad walls and wood pews.

Kyle Rooney

Rooney bought the church for $275,000 in December 2020. Other interested groups had proposed converting the space into apartments or tearing it down entirely, but Rooney was committed to preserving its history.

The nave of a church with unfinished wood floors.

Kyle Rooney

Six months into what ended up being a two-year project, Rooney said he had second thoughts. “If I would have known how much work and time it would have taken, I’m not sure I would have done it,” he said.

A dingy room with wood floors and various tables.

Kyle Rooney

Rooney, a real-estate investor who owns two other short-term rentals as well as some long-term rentals, said the project was a real “leap of faith.”

“This gets my attention in the evening and on the weekends. But I’ve been doing it long enough that I have the best portfolio of ‘help’ to make things happen,” he wrote in an email. “I struggle to screw in a lightbulb, and I’ve always told myself I won’t ever do real estate if it affects how I do my day job.  That’s number one, and this is a hobby. But one I really enjoy and I’m pretty good at.”

A massive fire in the 1980s caused the roof to collapse into the chapel. Part of the altar survived and remains in the Airbnb. Rooney posted a newspaper article about the fire in the space so visitors could learn its history.

A wood-clad church nave.

Kyle Rooney

In 2022, he was thrilled when the certificate of occupancy was approved and he could post the property on Airbnb and other short-term-rental booking sites.

New drywall around a peaked window.

Kyle Rooney

Rooney preserved pews, artifacts, and even priests’ private mementos. He placed them in the space — repurposing some as furniture and decor — to pay homage to its history.

A room with wood walls and a chess table surrounded by intricate wood chairs.

Kyle Rooney

The building remains a sacred place despite its new purpose, Rooney said. “It still elicits a certain kind of feeling when you walk in,” he added. “It’s peaceful and quiet.”

The outside of a church surrounded by trees and shrubbery.

Kyle Rooney

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