After more than a decade, Jeremy DiMaio grew tired of the monotony in the corporate world. He needed a change. “I took off to Hawaii for graduate school and a few years of paradise. There was no returning to the cubicle life after that.”
With corporate life in the rearview mirror, DiMaio has spent the last 15 years as a self-employed entrepreneur. He has a passion for crafting “memorable and fun” short-term rental places. “I look for underutilized buildings, generally the ones no one else wants.”
DiMaio’s current focus is the Church of Perpetual Boogie on Jefferson Avenue in Danville. He added, “It’s simultaneously overwhelming and incredibly fulfilling. Who doesn’t need a 9000 square foot, decaying, 150-year-old Gothic Revival Presbyterian church in their life?”
DiMaio had spent nearly 20 years looking for the right church. “I’m happy I found it here,” he added.
The church is a central part of Danville’s history, as it actively served the community for over 125 years. Preserving the stunning yet neglected building lured DiMaio in. The potential for adaptive reuse of the church hooked him. “The opportunity to give an old building a new life is an exciting challenge. Historic church buildings always have a story to tell, offer amazing architecture, and a challenge to create a utilitarian space that still honors the original reverence of the structure.”
The concept for the Church of Perpetual Boogie is of an inside joke for DiMaio. “About 7 years ago, I purchased an unusual home in Afton, Virginia, that was originally built by an eccentric inventor. That house is primarily an Airbnb rental. It’s weird and people love it.” While creating the original listing, he referred to the home as a “Boogie Nights Manor aesthetic, paying homage to its late 1970s meets mid-century vibe.” The rental was a hit with guests, and the name Boogie Nights Manor stuck.
“When I bought the church at 200 Jefferson Avenue, christening the structure The Church of the Perpetual Boogie seemed a perfect extension to the theme and brand. And, given that name now appears on Google Maps, there’s no changing it,” DiMaio said.
Aesthetically, DiMaio finds harmony by blending new life, in creative and interesting ways, with historic preservation into his properties. He added, “Two years ago, I owned zero religious furnishing or decorations; now the collection is 100 plus and growing.” One item is a 30-foot-wide hand-painted Last Super mural. “I want folks to smile as they experience this place, yet also learn about the history of the building. My intent is to thematically incorporate representations of many diverse faiths into the décor.”
When asked about the completion of the project, DiMaio joked, “Well, it took over 150 years for the church to get to this point, so hopefully, I’m at least halfway there.”
The plan is to have the living areas of the church complete by mid-to-late 2023. The space will be about 4,000 square feet. “I want to provide guests a lodging option and experience that enhances their stay in our community,” DiMaio said.
The remaining 5000 square feet of the church houses the sanctuary and will take longer to renovate. “Last year, we focused on making the sanctuary space structurally sound, so most of the improvements have been invisible. As the building had been largely abandoned for more than a decade, I felt strongly that it first needed to be stabilized and protected.”
Inside the sanctuary, there is a 123-year-old Moller organ. Lighting is courtesy of huge 19th century stained-glass windows. The original walnut pews are still in place. “Ideally, it will become a community space that can be enjoyed and used by the community in a creative and artistic manner,” DiMaio said.
For DiMaio, preserving the history of the church is the most important thing. He added, “I can tell you there are no intentions of chopping the space up and doing something that doesn’t respect its history as a community gathering space. A small music venue would be kinda cool, right?”
For more information and to follow the revitalization visit, boogiechurch.com.