Lockerbie mansion 'off the hook'

February 14, 2008
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Crown Jewel of LockerbieLocally based Sparks Restorations has spent more than $1.5 million to buy and renovate an Italianate mansion in Lockerbie that was built in 1876. The mansion is now two giant townhouses that carry pricetags of just under $1.1 million each. Jeff Sparks, the developer, said he paid $475,000 in August for what amounted to a brick shell next door to the James Whitcomb Riley home. He said the mansion had been a national fraternity headquarters and was in Animal House condition, with amenities like Astroturf. The project now is called "Crown Jewel of Lockerbie." Each side has 3,900 square feet with 4 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, a theater room and two fireplaces. Features include Brazilian cherry floors, porcelain bathroom fixtures, slate floors, exposed brick walls, 12-foot ceilings and a $30,000 appliance package. Sparks isn't worried about the slow residential market. "If you just build it off the hook, people will buy it," he said.
  • fo shizzle!
  • The house was on the Lockerbie Square Home Tour just a few years ago and it was definitely not in animal house condition then and was certainly not just a shell when Sparks bought it. I do know that every historic interior element that was in the house when Sparks bought it was torn out and discarded. That being said, I am glad someone finally did something with the home.
  • Isn't the point of going through all the trouble of creating historic districts and trying to make a house of historic status is to restore and preserve it? Not rip out every fixture to make it hip and cool.
    Exposed brick walls? This is a historic mansion, not a 1920's warehouse. Honestly people looking at structures like this usually expect an interior of equal or higher beauty. Not a modern interior that lacks the victorian beauty that the exterior holds.
  • Not necessarily Helen...
  • Just restoring the home would amount to a preservation project Helen. Architiecture is often about much more than creating repositories to look backward. This seems like a sensible project brought up to date with todays standards and expectations that both the public desire and the market upholds.
  • Yeah I mean I don't expect them to like not use counters or not change the wallpaper to preserve the 19th century look of the house. But this isn't your typical shotgun either. It seems like such a historic home would have been properly fixed up instead of gutted but oh well its probably just me.
  • amax said that architecture is often about much more than creating repositories to look backward. This seems like a very shallow comment and lacks the true purpose of architecture. Architecture, whether it is modern or preservation is to serve a cultural purpose in our society as well as a useful one. We should not destroy significant historic properties that have historic cultural value just to have a modern building. Certainly there are a lot of old buildings in Indianapolis that can be made modern. But the significant historic buildings and homes should be renovated or rehabilitated with consideration for the historic significance and historic character. Helen is right ... exposed brick walls ... is not being considerate of the historic character of this building. I have not been in this building but there is no way it can be the Crown Jewel of Lockerbie with the work they mention. Lockerbie is one of our most important historic districts and it deserves more than what has been described by any developer. The Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission only concerns themselves with the exterior of the buildings so the interior work can destroy the historic character and still get their approval. However, the State Historic Preservation Office, which administers the historic rehabilitation tax credit program (for income producing properties), would never approve this project if it exposed brick walls that were originally plastered. I hate to see developers, architects, contractors, and owners rehabilitate historic properties without considering the historic character of the property. It is so easy to do it right.
  • Developers don't care about proper restoration color me free.
    They care about the big bucks and whats hip and cool.
    Ten years from now somebody will be trying to return the interior to its former glory and would be thinking what on earth were they thinking?!.
    Most people I know who look for homes say that historic fixtures are a plus. Mainly because they tend to be pretty and last a really long time.
  • That house is off the hook. It's a BARICK HOOUSA! It's mighty mighty:)
  • Oh Helen, you so crazy...
  • how am I crazy? 0_o
  • There is a difference between trying to keep every single interior the way it was a hundred years ago and preserving the interiors of brick italianate mansions(which Indianapolis has so few of).
  • There's no way it was ever an animal house interior as long as Phi Kappa Psi's headquarters were there. The organization places a high regard on historic preservation. Anyone who doubts this should take a tour through their new location, the former Hudson Institute....once the Stoughton Fletcher mansion. Like their previous home in Lockerbie it's received a major investment including quality repairs and furnishings.
  • Thanks to JAK and reality watcher. Sounds like Animal House-condition is in the eye of the beholder.
  • I feel the asking price for each condo is very high.........
  • Thanks Cory. If anyone would like to see what the former owners of the Lockerbie house have done to the Fletcher Mansion (Laurel Hall) take a look at their website:
    If you would like to know the fascinating background of this home go to then click on the history tab. The cost of the home in the early 1900's would be equal to about $37 million today.
  • When this building was the Phi Kappa Psi headquarters, it was also a registered museum, containing an important collection of Victorian furniture. The fraternity had long outgrown the building, and had offices wherever it could manage, but I'm appalled at the suggestion that the national headquarters of a fraternity with the nation's largest educational endowment could be considered animal house condition. This guy needs to pull his head out.

    When Phi Psi bought the building, it was gutted and carefully restored. They were among the early pioneers in Lockerbie.
  • So Chris Thomas was caught puffing on his Cityview, but this developer is aparently making stuff up (and trashing the previous owner's reputation in the process) to justify his selling price.

    Did he really invest $1.1 million?
  • er, I guess that's the asking price...but he was saying his total investment is $1.5...
  • I'm just not seeing it.

    $1.1 mil for 1/2 house with a single car garage door (it's a 2 car garage, but there's a lift that allows you to stack your cars...if what I'm seeing is correct). No yard to speak of.

    It doesn't surprise me that the developer said he basically bought a 'shell'. The Phi Psi's did take care of it, but they used it as an office. Not a residence. He would basically half to gut what he could in order to enlarge the rooms and make them more attractive to capture that 1.1 mil price. Not to mention turning it back into a double with the amenities they're advertising.

    Hopefully I can get over there during the Sunday open houses. I definitely want to see this place. And, all the luck to the developer in find buyers. I think it would be tough given the large number of options in downtown...especially at that price point. Wow!
  • When Phi Psi bought the building, it was gutted and carefully restored. They were among the early pioneers in Lockerbie.
    And now this is a developer pioneer of destroying it. :) Makes you warm inside.
  • I walked through it. I didn't realize til I got outside that they were asking $1.1M for each side. 700K sounds like a great profit, but if they can get it, more power to them. It was a wee bit nicer than my place, and they obviously took a risk in investing whatever they did, but I don't see someone paying that price for a half of a double.
  • I cannot stomach any more! It is veyr easy to tell who works on the public dole when reading this stuff.

    $700K is too much profit? Really? Why don't you take a loan out against your pension and try a project yourself.

    He's asking 2.2 mil to sell. Take 10% off for advertising and realtor fees. That brings it down to 2 million. Now your profit is down to $500K.

    Nothing sells fast. Let's say this takes two years, beginning to end, to complete. He's borrowed $1.5 million for two years, at say 8%. That's $240K. Now he's down to $260K profit.

    Let's suppose he doesn't get a full-price offer. Now what are you going to tell him?

    You bureaucrats just simply don't get it. You get a GUARANTEED pension. How is it guaranteed? The men with leather boots and guns come out and take our homes from us and throw us in the street if we don't pay our property taxes. What are those taxes for, by and large? Salaries and pensions of ... bureaucrats!

    This guy's plan doesn't work out he has NO POWER over me whatsoever. He cant' come take my house. His loss is ... his loss. It isn't my problem.

    Your fups and disasters, however, never cost you a dime. You just hire more people to help out around the office. And we pay more taxes. Enough is enough. Get off his back

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