Tourist Attractions and Arts & Entertainment, etc. and Attractions and Tourism & Hospitality and Real Estate & Retail

Billie Creek up for auction after sealed bids fail

September 23, 2012

Billie Creek Village will go up for public auction next month after a sealed-bid auction produced no acceptable bids.

The Terre Haute Tribune-Star reported that the Parke County historic site's land, buildings and antiques will be auctioned publicly on Oct. 20 during the county's Covered Bridge Festival.

Jeff Doner of Key Auctioneers in Indianapolis says some sealed bids were submitted by Thursday's deadline, but all were declined. Doner says no estimated value for the property has been released, and owner Charlie Cooper has declined to say what price he would accept for the property.

The popular field trip destination about 60 miles west of Indianapolis includes two covered bridges, 30 Civil War-era buildings and a party pavilion on about 70 acres.

Originally owned by a not-for-profit organization, Cooper purchased a controlling interest in the village about four years ago when it faced financial struggles. He said Friday that even though the property did not sell during the sealed bid auction, he will consider reasonable offers until the live auction.

A preview has been scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 19 to register bidders, give tours of the property and answer questions. All antiques and equipment will be sold separately, and the property likely will be divided into two sections.

County Commissioner George Nicholas said he hopes that whoever buys the property keeps it as a working historic village.

"I would still rather prefer it going to one person or organization to operate as a solvent tourism attraction," Nicholas said. "Billie Creek Village is an important part of the local tourism industry. It would be sorely missed if it were not there."

He also noted that many of the antique equipment and furnishings that bring authentic character to the village have been donated through the years by Parke County residents.

Cooper told the Tribune-Star that many factors caused him to shut down the village this year and offer it for sale, including declining finances and higher operation and maintenance costs.

"I'm 80 years old, and we farm out here. I got my hands full with the farm operation," Cooper said. "I want to get it (the village) into the hands of younger people."

The village includes multiple buildings such as blacksmith and broom shops, a pottery, a school, a livery, churches, a farm house and a print shop.

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