Six months ago, it was a dreary ranch-style home, inhabited by Kansas University students for 50 years or so.
Now it's a first-ever permanent home for a KU campus ministry, one that leaders hope will draw students to its doors to take a peek and brighten the landscape around the university's south entrance.
KU's Lutheran Campus Ministry will move into its new site at 1421 W. 19th St. in early February, after renovations that started in August.
The group has been in existence in some form for about 90 years, and it's celebrating its 50th anniversary as a staffed ministry this year. It has moved through a series of houses and other spaces that it shared with other groups.
"We've been located several places, and this is the first time we've ever had a home of our own," said Kevin Boatright, the president of the ministry's board.
The new home, across 19th Street from Oliver Hall and next door to the Islamic Center of Lawrence, is partly a gift bequeathed by a Lutheran congregation that no longer exists. A church in Westwood near Kansas City closed its doors about two years ago, and it gave the KU ministry a big portion of the proceeds from the sale of its building.
That gift netted about $400,000 for the ministry, said Shawn Norris, its pastor. A fundraising effort for a new home collected about $300,000 more.
Because of its origin, the new home will be named "Westwood House."
The redesigned building no longer looks like the house it was before, though. Norris says that was the point.
"We want people to feel like they can just walk up to the door and walk in," Norris said.
The feel the ministry went for is that of a coffeehouse or a bank, he said.
It's a far cry from how it looked before construction started in August. It was similar to the other ranch homes along 19th Street, built some 50 years ago with student occupants in mind.
This one, though, boasted a fake stone face covering the bottom half of its front wall. Boatright and Norris agreed it was, well, ugly.
Norris recalled the first time he took a look at the house after Boatright saw it was for sale and recommended it as a home for the ministry.
"I drove by, and I said, 'No.' " Norris said. " 'We're not going to buy this house.' "
That appearance is gone, though. The building has a new front porch framed by stone columns, and a weed-filled front yard is replaced with a wide-open brick walkway leading to the door.
Gone are the leaky windows and beat-up roof. A new dark red roof fits in with the KU campus architecture.
"It had seen a lot of use," said Boatright, who works as communications director for KU's Office of Research and Graduate Studies when not volunteering on the ministry's board.
Inside, the original hardwood floor remains in a kitchen and sitting area that will be styled like a coffeeshop. Students can wander in, likely from about 6 p.m. to midnight each day, for free coffee and espresso drinks, Norris said. Contractors also made an addition to the back of the building, adding a worship and gathering area with room for 70 people.
In addition to housing the Lutheran ministry's worship services and gatherings, Norris said he hoped it would be a gathering spot for all students regardless of their beliefs, fit for studying, drinking coffee or talking.
Sam Atherton, a pre-med KU student who is president of the ministry's student board, said it should make for a nice spot for students to get away from loud roommates or other distractions.
"I think it'll be a place for people to gather, a place for students to pop in and decompress," Atherton said.
And, Boatright says, the new building did not hurt the surrounding area's appearance.
"We're hoping that this will sort of enhance the south entrance to campus a little bit, and hopefully improve the look of 19th Street between Iowa and Naismith," Boatright said.