Ace Hardware Owners Create Spaces for Prayer, Reflection and Artistry
Writer / Lois Tomaszewski
Photographer / Kari Lipscomb
Larry and Gloria Martin, the 35-year owners of Middlebury Ace Hardware, have created spaces on land adjacent to their business that are testaments to their faith and love for community. The Carpenter’s House and the Master’s Gallery have become places for people to reflect, pray, meet and be inspired by the lessons found in God’s word.
“We are strong in our faith and Christian walk,” Gloria Martin says. “When we hear God speak, we try to be as true as we can.”
What the couple heard was inspiration to build a house of prayer that people could come to. The log cabin on the hill next to the hardware store is the result of that inspiration. Built in 2017, it is simple and inviting, and built from an Amish kit, Martin says.
While the cabin design is simple, there are some elements to the structure that are grand, such as the stained glass windows, hand crafted by an artist in Texas, an altar, and a cedar cross. The windows, the front door and other features were funded by the community.
Another feature is the prayer wall, which is often filled with handwritten notes asking for prayers from Carpenter’s House visitors. Martin says people are encouraged to write their prayer on a piece of paper and hang it on the wall. Someone else will come along, read what they are asking for and perhaps include the request in their own prayers.
The wraparound porch, swings and rocking chairs are also available to those who want to de-stress or simply enjoy the cabin’s welcoming atmosphere. Martin says she is happy to see people using the porch and praying in the cabin.
“This affirms what God has asked us to do,” Martin says.
The cabin is open to anyone during the hardware store’s weekday business hours. The key to the Carpenter’s House is available by request. Most of the time it is open, Martin says, and visitors can just go right in.
Visitors to the log cabin vary. In addition to local folks, truckers traveling down U.S. Highway 20 have stopped in. Customers at the hardware store and previous guests at the hotel next door have also spent time inside. People working in the area factories are also frequent visitors.
Sometimes the cabin is used for Bible studies. Every two months, a “Pizza and Prayer” event is held on the grounds. It can be used for ceremonies, special events and other gatherings that fall into the purpose of the Carpenter’s House. A children’s Bible camp also takes place for four weeks in the summer.
It was also the site of the Martin’s vow renewal ceremony.
The Master’s Gallery will present the original artwork of Mindi Oaten, a Canadian acrylic artist whose art is inspired by her faith. In the Master’s Gallery, Oaten’s work depicts the 66 books of the Bible, beginning with Genesis. “Garden of Grace,” as the artwork is titled, depicts a flower or plant as noted in the Bible.
The Master’s Gallery is also a log cabin, but a different size from the Carpenter’s House. It has motion sensors and lights to properly display the faith-themed artwork adorning the walls.
“It is literally a walk through the Bible,” Martin says.
Larry and Gloria met as college sweethearts. They have been married for 53 years.
“We know each other’s heart,” Martin says.
The Martins raised four children and have 11 grandchildren. They live close enough to visit and have taken an interest in the Carpenter’s House and the Master’s Gallery. A time capsule created by the Indiana family is tucked away on the grounds. The capsule is a way for the Martins to “pass on our faith and share the promises of God,” she says.
“God uses people to carry out his extreme plans,” Martin says. “As Psalm 66:5 says, ‘Come see what our God has done. What awesome miracles he has brought about.’”
The Martins are currently organizing an outdoor concert for October featuring Jason Gray, a Christian musician from Nashville. The concert is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. Food trucks will be on-site for this event, Martin says.
The Carpenter’s House and Master’s Gallery are located at 103 Crystal Heights Boulevard in Middlebury. For more information, email Martin at email@example.com or call 574-849-5757.