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Column: How far can $1 go these days? Far enough to buy house

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Indiana Landmarks is working with the Community Center of Hope to find someone who would be willing to purchase and relocate a 2,600-square-foot Victorian house at 521 Washington St.  in Hope.
Indiana Landmarks is working with the Community Center of Hope to find someone who would be willing to purchase and relocate a 2,600-square-foot Victorian house at 521 Washington St. in Hope. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Even in the worst days of the housing slump, it wasn’t often that a historic Victorian house went on the market for $1. Now, as the market appears to be in the midst of a rebound, a 133-year-old home in Hope is being offered for that queenly price.

All the buyer has to do is move it.

Obviously, anything as big as a 2,600-square-foot, two-story house being offered for a buck would raise “buyer beware” warnings, and Julie Begin, director of the Community Center of Hope (owner of the building), freely acknowledges that any buyer will have to shell out several thousand dollars for the extras that go with the wood frame structure.

“Someone will have to physically remove it from the property, and that will run into the thousands of dollars alone,” she said. “The great thing about this house, however, is that it’s in very good shape structurally.”

The dollar signs go higher with each foot traveled on the way to a new location, but even that prospect is lightened by the fact that a vacant lot a block or so from the house’s present location is available for sale. In fact, folks in Hope hope that a buyer will take advantage of that opportunity, thus keeping the structure in town.

It certainly belongs there. The house built in the Queen Anne style has had the 521 Washington St. address since 1880. It goes by two names, the Nading-Stafford house, a bow to the two families who occupied it for more than a century.

According to records compiled by Ben Schulte and Nick Speth of the Bartholomew County Historical Society, the home was built by Samuel Nading. Four years later, a Simon Nading purchased a grain mill that originally was built by Sandford Rominger in 1856, Hope’s “first flouring mill.” It and the house would remain in the Nading family until 1916, when both were purchased by Charles LaMartin Stafford. The house would remain in the Stafford family into the 21st century.

It acquired a new owner in 2010 when it was purchased by the Community Center of Hope. While the house had a definite historic charm — despite the aluminum siding that covers some of the striking and original exterior woodwork — its appeal to the center was the ground on which it was situated.

It was property next door to the Community Center.

“It gives us a much-needed opportunity to expand,” Begin said. “We can use the back portion of the property for a parking lot, for instance.”

To accomplish that, however, the house has to go. Fortunately, there’s a sense of history around Hope, and wheels were set in motion to find a way to save the home.

Historic Landmarks of Indiana was alerted about the house and commissioned a study of its history by the local historical society. The state preservation group then pitched in to help publicize the effort to save the home. It’s even been scheduled as the subject for a story in an upcoming issue of This Old House magazine.

Those who would save the house are operating under a deadline. It has to be off the property by Aug. 31.

Potential buyers also should be aware that the house comes with some caveats. For instance, purchase of the building will be subject to preservation covenants held by Indiana Landmarks that will govern exterior rehabilitation at the new location.

All that taken into consideration, how many times does a 133-year-old Victorian house still in good shape go on the market for $1?

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