WASHINGTON — A home that was a neighborhood eyesore is gone.
In its place will be something to see, and a new home for a family of five.
Groundbreaking was held Saturday for the first Habitat for Humanity home in Washington.
The home will be built on a lot at 301 Lynnhaven Drive that was purchased from the city by Habitat for Humanity Greater Peoria Area.
The new homeowners are Josh and Melinda Worsham. They have three daughters, Kyleigh, 11, Myah, 4, and Hope, 1. The family has been living in an 825-square-foot rental home on Jefferson Street in Washington for eight years.
Their new ranch home on Lynnhaven will be 1,200 square feet with three bedrooms and a full basement.
Josh is employed by New Century Armored Logistics. Melinda is a stay-at-home mom.
"Thank you so much for helping us," Melinda said to a crowd of about 100 during the groundbreaking ceremony, her voice filled with emotion.
"Having a home of our own that's more than big enough for our family is something that was far back in our minds," she said.
To be a Habitat homeowner, a family must show need and be able to afford a 20-year, 0-percent interest mortgage, with the mortgage amount based on the cost of materials to build the home.
The family also must donate 250 "sweat equity" hours per adult during home construction and take 12 home ownership classes.
St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Washington is the master sponsor for the Lynnhaven home build. That means the church is donating $50,000 toward the construction of the home, slightly more than half of the cost.
Volunteers from the church also will help build the home over the expected 14- to 18-week construction timeline that includes a wall raising ceremony at 10:30 a.m. June 10.
Church members made up the majority of the crowd at the groundbreaking. Many wore blue T-shirts with "2017 Washington build" on the front.
St. Mark's has been providing monetary support and labor for Habitat builds for about 15 years. This is the first time the church is a master sponsor.
The Rev. John Bates, St. Mark's senior pastor, said church members made the commitment to be a master sponsor last summer before knowing the build would be in Washington.
"We're very excited the home will be in our city," he said.
Bates said the church's enthusiasm for the project was evident in March during a lunch meeting with Habitat officials held after Sunday services.
"We planned for about 70 people. More than 100 showed up. We had to get more sandwiches," he said.
Bates and other church members met the Worsham family for the first time at the groundbreaking.
"We all know how important a home is. We especially know here in Washington after so many lost their homes to the (November 2013) tornado," Bates said.
Jordan Nelson, community development coordinator for Habitat, said it's unusual for a church to be a master sponsor for a home build because of the required financial commitment.
The home that used to be on the Lynnhaven lot sat vacant for more than three years before it was demolished late last summer.
Nobody lived in the home after its owner died in June 2013. Neighbors began contacting Washington officials in summer 2015 and expressed concerns about the deteriorating property.
The city was granted a judicial deed to the home last summer after the home was declared abandoned and the home was demolished in late August for $4,500.
Habitat submitted the highest of three bids for the vacant lot. Washington City Council approved its $11,500 bid Dec. 5.
"A very bad situation has become a very good situation," Lowell Beebe said at the groundbreaking.
He and his wife Janet moved from Peoria into a home next to the vacant home on Lynnhaven in August 2015. They paid just $80,000 for their home because of the eyesore next door, hoping the rumors about the vacant home being demolished would come true.
The Lynnhaven home was the second purchased by Washington in recent years through a judicial deed. A home on Ernest Street was torn down and the empty lot was bought by a neighbor.
"It's great there will be a new home (on Lynnhaven)," said Jon Oliphant, Washington's planning and development director. "That's our desire when we go through the judicial need process."
St. Mark's hopes to raise $100,000 to sponsor two Habitat home builds. So far, Bates said, $67,000 has been pledged toward that goal and $35,000 has been received.
Steve Stein can be reached at 686-3114 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.
HEADLINE: Want to help?
* Financial, material and labor donations are needed for the Habitat for Humanity home in Washington. Call 676-6729, ext. 6.
* For a list of needed building materials and to watch the home's construction, go to www.habitatpeoria.org/washington.