In the late spring of 1982, The Holiness Tabernacle Church, on a whisker under half an acre in Blacksburg, sold for $500. It is uncertain from there when it was transformed from a small house of worship to a small house of living. “It had 11 different types of flooring when I purchased it in December of 2019, and it’s hard to determine exactly what might have been added on and which was the original church building,” explains homeowner Jessica Hotter. “I believe the master bedroom in the front was most likely the sanctuary, yet there are no remnants of this having been a church.”
With a backyard which closely borders a hill belonging to the next property, the outdoor space is a wood deck on the front, facing the street. However, it’s a short, dead-end street with protected woods on the other side of the 2-lane road. Several windows along the back frame ferns, trees and wild grass. A decades-old bamboo stand borders one side, and this natural setting is as enchanting as the cozy interior.
The front door opens into a modern great room. Now here, great does not refer to size, but to the interior great room concept of an open space which serves multiple functions – like dining, relaxing, cooking, enjoying wine and entertaining. This great room is quite compact, yet offers all the amenities of an area with a larger footprint.

The newly-renovated kitchen sports an island with comfortable seating for four, white cabinetry, countertops and backsplash, modern long brass hardware and adorable open wine shelving on either side of the sink. The window over the sink does not have glass, but looks through to the extensive bank of windows along the back. Contemporary living room furniture is placed in a U-shape between the back windows and a front bay window, welcoming in an abundance of natural daylight.
Surprisingly, this quaint 1,586-square-foot cottage offers three bedrooms and 2 ½ bathrooms. The master bedroom and bath belong to Jessica, and the other bedroom at the end of the same short hallway, along with the full hall bath, is occupied by her roommate and sister, Jocelyn. “After graduating from George Mason in 2018, I moved to the New River Valley for grad school at Virginia Tech,” Jocelyn relates. “Our dad retired to Claytor Lake, so I went to live with him. One experience sliding my car on ice in winter was enough for me to jump into Jessica’s little house in town.”
Jocelyn has completed her master’s degree and works in Schiffert Health Center on campus. Jessica finished both her undergraduate (class of 2016) and graduate degrees at Virginia Tech and is the Director of Brand Development and Trademark Licensing in University Relations.
The third bedroom belongs to the large, white dogs, which are not related. Jessica’s white German Shepherd, Yeti, is 5, and she’s had him since he was 11 months old. Jocelyn moved in with her dog, Tahoe, an all-white husky she acquired as a puppy. The bay window cushion and view is also primarily theirs.
In case there’s not enough greenery outside the cottage, Jocelyn has quite the plant collection inside, resting on bookcases, hanging in windows, sitting on ledges. The pillow on her bed announces “Plant Parent”. Once the seasons change, they will not be without fresh greenery throughout the house.
In addition to some flooring changes, the kitchen renovation and driveway getting paved, Jessica upgraded the lights and mirrors in the bathrooms and painted the exterior. “I would like to replace some more floors and install an electric fireplace,” she states. “There’s something so peaceful about reading and drinking a glass of wine in front of a fireplace in winter.”
Seriously, there is something so peaceful about simply living in such a whimsical, well-ordered, cute and cozy cottage, framed with a whimsical, not-so-well-ordered, cute and cozy natural environment.


Text by Joanne M. Anderson
Photos by Christy Wallace