Paul E. Estridge Sr., the founder of local homebuilding fixture The Estridge Group, died Monday at St. Vincent Hospital in Carmel. He was 79.
Estridge started the firm in 1967, and it became synonymous with custom and upscale homes in Indianapolis' northern suburbs. His son, Paul Estridge Jr., took over the business in 1992. At its peak, the company built several hundred homes annually.
Estridge Group became part of a Houston-based company in 2011 when the company could no longer keep up with a mounting pile of debt. It was just one of a string of local homebuilders to succumb to one of the worst housing markets in decades. C.P. Morgan Communities LP and Davis Homes folded in 2009, and Hansen & Horn Group Inc. followed suit in 2010.
Born on Feb. 21, 1934, Paul Estridge Sr. spent two years in the U.S. Army after graduating from Broad Ripple High School. When he was 33 and the father of young children, he quit his job of 12 years as a regional sales manager with Anderson Window Co., although he had no new job lined up, according to IBJ research.
He figured he could equal his previous income by building two custom homes during that first year of self-employment. Instead, he built four, and a homebuilding empire was born.
Estridge had a keen interest in horse racing, and at one point was president of three related firms: Sagamore Park Group Inc., Estes Stables and Oak Park Farm Inc.
He and his son both were investors in Shelbyville-based Indiana Downs horse-racing track. South Bend-based Oliver Racing LLC agreed in 2007 to buy out their 34-percent share for $53.5 million.
Services will be held at 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Centennial Bible Church, 720 Liberty Drive in Carmel. Visitation will begin at 2 p.m.