A real “fixer-upper”: The former Parke County Poor Asylum is up for sale and needs all of the TLC a new owner can muster for the property near Rockville. The historic real estate is at 1689 N. Bloomingdale Road and backs up to the Parke County Golf Course and the Parke County 4-H Fairgrounds. Staff photo by Joseph C. Garza
A real “fixer-upper”: The former Parke County Poor Asylum is up for sale and needs all of the TLC a new owner can muster for the property near Rockville. The historic real estate is at 1689 N. Bloomingdale Road and backs up to the Parke County Golf Course and the Parke County 4-H Fairgrounds. Staff photo by Joseph C. Garza
The Parke County Poor Asylum, which sits on 6.2 acres north of Rockville, is listed for sale at an asking price of $200,000.

But fair warning – it’s definitely a fixer-upper.

The 1930 Gothic/Greek Revival building has soaring columns with a brick exterior of steel-reinforced concrete construction. It’s located at 1689 N. Bloomingdale Road in Rockville and backs up to the Parke County Golf Course and the Parke County 4-H Fairgrounds.

“You can envision that this could be an amazing property,” said Eric Wolfe of Prime Real Estate Group. “I’m sure Indiana Landmarks would like to see someone get this property and do something great with it.”

The main building has sat vacant for more than a decade. It is in need of a full renovation and restoration.

Behind that building is a “cell house” that still has bars on the windows. A pole barn built a few decades ago stores equipment.

The property is documented as a county home in Indiana, which could expedite its listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Being listed qualifies properties for several rehabilitation incentive programs, said Tommy Kleckner, director of the Western Regional Office of Indiana Landmarks.

Kleckner agrees with Wolfe that the asylum is a structure with potential for rehabilitation.

“It’s been disheartening to watch such a grand building deteriorate over the past decade or so but given its solid construction, I’ve remained hopeful rehab and reuse would be in its future. The fact that it’s finally been listed on the market after a long period of limbo bodes well for preservation,” Kleckner said.

Investment is definitely needed, he said, and anyone interested in purchasing the property should keep that in mind. But the structure’s size and its location adjacent to the Parke County Golf Course should enhance reuse opportunities.

In recent years, Indiana Landmarks included county homes of Indiana as one of the state’s 10 Most Endangered Places due to the continued loss of these significant resources.

“We stand prepared to assist both in the marketing of the Parke County Poor Asylum property and in its transformation by a new owner,” Kleckner said.

The main structure has three floors plus a basement. It was closed in 2010; its last use was a nursing home.

“It has a long driveway going back to it,” Wolfe said. “It could be a tree-lined drive like you see in the movies leading up to a grand house.”

Wolfe said the property went through a tax sale, and it has had three owners in the past 10 years.

Wolfe said the current owner approached him about listing the property because Wolfe is also handling another property for the owner.

“He bought it because he loved the look of the building, but he’s never done anything with it, and it was time to let it go,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe said he thinks the property would make a good hotel, rehab facility, condos or rental apartments. There is enough land to build cabins, too, he said.

Originally built to house people with no income, including the unemployed, widows, orphans and those with mental health issues who could not be employed, the building’s use eventually evolved over time and became a health care facility.

At one time, all Indiana counties had either a poor asylum or county home to house the indigent. By 2013, only 48 facilities survived, and those have been listed as worthy of preservation due to their historic context.

Parke County officials separated the poor asylum from its surrounding farmland, and retain ownership of nearby agricultural ground that used to support farming and gardening efforts for the poor asylum.

An online real estate listing has more information at www.realtor.com.
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