Monday, October 29, 2001

Historic Ind. inn sells at auction

The Associated Press

        BETHLEHEM, Ind. — A brick mansion built in 1836 on land overlooking the Ohio River was sold at auction Saturday for $235,000 to a couple who plan to use it as their retirement home.

        The five-bedroom home, which has been a bed-and-breakfast for several years and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a dream home, said Mike Oles, the new owner of the Inn at Bethlehem.

        “It's beautiful,” he said. “We've been dreaming of a place on the river for years. And we just fell in love with the place.”

        The property became a bed-and-breakfast after Jeanne and Chester Browne purchased the inn, an adjacent barn and more than 26 acres in 1988 for $90,000.

        The Brownes spent years renovating the inn and converting the old tobacco barn into a lodge that's also listed on the National Register.

        But in recent years, Mr. Browne, 70, suffered two strokes. The couple decided to sell the property, which was on the market for a year before they opted to auction it.

        The Oleses purchased the inn, with five bedrooms and an attached apartment, plus several acres, for $235,000. The four-bedroom lodge was sold for $140,000 to another owner, who also plans to live in it.

        The adjacent lot sold for $77,000, but a 21-acre tract across the street from the inn, along with a house down the street, didn't meet minimum bids and were not sold, Mrs. Browne said. She and her husband plan to move to Florida.

        The Oleses, who own a similar Federal-style farmhouse in Indianapolis, hope to eventually retire to their new home on the Ohio about 20 miles upstream from Louisville.

        “We're looking forward to Thanksgiving here,” Mr. Oles said. “We have a lot to be thankful for.”


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