VALPARAISO, Ind. (AP) — A grand mansion in northwest Indiana that was visited by a parade of prominent guests before being turned into an upscale restaurant is meeting the wrecking ball after years of neglect.
Architectural salvage professionals rescued chandeliers, woodwork, hardware and other fixtures from the Victorian-era Calkins-Brown House before demolition work recently began in Valparaiso. The site is set to be redeveloped into townhomes in the city about 50 miles southeast of Chicago.
The four-story mansion was built around 1860, boasting 21 rooms. It was later owned by early Valparaiso University President Henry Baker Brown, who welcomed such prominent guests as President William Howard Taft and Irish President Eamon DeValera, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.
The Pappas family bought the property in 1942 and turned it into a fine-dining restaurant, the White House restaurant, which served prime rib, quail and shrimp-stuffed trout under glistening chandeliers in spacious rooms with high ceilings and fine woodwork.
After that restaurant closed in 1995, the grand building was damaged by a fire three years later. It was last used as bridal shop and reception hall in the mid-2000s and had long been in disrepair.
“While it’s sad to see the building go, it has been equally sad to see it so long neglected,” Valparaiso Mayor Matt Murphy said. “As we fondly remember this Valparaiso landmark, we also look forward to seeing new energy at this important corner of Valparaiso’s downtown.”
Developer Faganel Builders will build eight paired townhomes and two standalone homes on the site being dubbed Calkins Hill. The name is in honor of the Valparaiso merchant William T. Calkins, who first lived in the home, which was often known as the Calkins-Brown House or the Brown Home.