Endangered historic Connersville mansion saved by local couple's purchase

CONNERSVILLE, Ind. -- A Connersville, Indiana couple helped save an endangered historic mansion, promising to preserve it for years to come. 

The Newkirk Mansion at 317-321 Western Avenue was put on Indiana Landmarks' 2017 Most Endangered List. In order to save it from future decay and vandalism.

The mansion was built in 1880 by William Newkirk, the owner of a manufacturing company. The house is full of handmade woodwork. It's seen many different owners since that time, including Mike and Jenny Sparks, who bought it this week from Indiana Landmarks. 

"We owned the house from 1987 to the early ‘90s,” Mike Sparks said, via Indiana Landmarks. “We sold it so our two boys could grow up on our farm in the country outside Connersville. We really loved the house. It was in great shape when we lived there. Clean, dry, no leaks."

To save the house, Indiana Landmarks bought it for $65,000, then sold it to the Sparks family.  

“Shame on us if we couldn’t save a place like the Newkirk Mansion,” said Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks. “We took a $9,000 loss from our Efroymson Family Endangered Places Fund, and we consider it well worth the cost. Mike and Jenny Sparks understand what the property needs and they felt they couldn’t pay more, given the amount they will have to invest to restore it."

A lot of work is required to restore and stabilize the house. The couple intends to replace a mirror destroyed by vandals. They've already cleared the overgrowth around the house, and plan on fixing the roof to make sure it's airtight for winter.

The Sparks family is partnering with the local Altrusa club to 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, cash sales only.

“We hope the house becomes a catalyst for downtown revival in Connersville,” Mike said. “We intend to do what we can to fuel that."

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