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Preservation organization helps save endangered Connersville mansion

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CONNERSVILLE, Ind. – Indiana Landmarks announced Thursday that they bought the Newkirk Mansion, a site on their 10 “most endangered” list.

The organization bought the mansion and sold it with protective covenants to Connersville natives Mike and Jenny Sparks.

It was completed in 1880 by the owner of a furniture manufacturing company and was a mainstay until Newkirk’s widow died in 1933.

Several years later, it was converted into apartments and then was converted into a nursing home in 1962.  Long vacant, the Sparks owned the home in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

In order to save the house, the Indiana Landmarks included it on the 2017 Most Endangered list. Indiana Landmarks optioned the property while it hunted for a buyer.

They sold the house to another family who were committed to maintaining its historic character, but after about 18 months, the man was killed in a car accident and in the ensuing years the house began a long, slow decline.

After marketing the property and fielding calls from throughout Indiana and overseas, Indiana Landmarks negotiated to buy the house for $65,000 and selected the Sparks as buyers, selling it to the couple for $56,000.

Indiana Landmarks closed on the sale to the Sparks on Tuesday and the couple have already cleared the overgrowth from around the house.

“They’ve  committed to Indiana Landmarks that before winter they’ll fully stabilize the house, fixing the roof to make sure it’s watertight,” notes Michael Flowers, community preservation specialist in the organization’s eastern regional office.

The restoration is expected to take several years to complete, reversing the decades of decline. But people won’t have to wait to see it.

The Sparks, in partnership with the local Altrusa club, are opening the Newkirk Mansion for a “before” tour on Saturday, Oct. 28, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 29, 1-6 p.m. Admission is $10 per person.