CARMEL, Ind. – A Carmel estate appraised at more than $30 million has been donated to The Great American Songbook Foundation.
The 107-acre Asherwood estate is the former home of philanthropist Bren Simon and her late husband Mel Simon, cofounder of Simon Property Group, the nation’s largest shopping mall owner.
The foundation hopes to use the massive donation to create a freestanding Great American Songbook Hall of Fame Museum, dedicated to the popular music of Tin Pan Alley, Broadway and Hollywood.
No longer occupied by Bren Simon, the estate includes a fully furnished 50,000-square-foot main house, an 8,000-square-foot clubhouse, a 6,000-square-foot guesthouse, several other structures and two golf courses.
“During my time at Asherwood, my fondest memories were when we welcomed guests into our home and hosted events to support causes we care deeply about,” Simon said. “I am so pleased that Asherwood is now transitioning into a place that will support the Great American Songbook Foundation and be seen and used by the Foundation, its guests and the public at large. I can think of no finer use than for Asherwood to become an asset to the Songbook Foundation and to support the mission of celebrating American music.”
The foundation has over 100,000 items, including recordings and other artifacts from the 20th century heyday of the Great American Songbook.
The foundation staff and board will begin work immediately to evaluate the many possibilities for the use of the donated property, starting with a comprehensive feasibility study.
“This gift is undeniably a game-changer for our organization, and it comes with great accountability,” said Chris Lewis, Executive Director of the Great American Songbook Foundation. “We will proceed very deliberately and strategically to maximize its value as Mrs. Simon intended. We also recognize the interests of the residents and property owners in the area, and their input will be very important.”