Noble County’s historic Sower Farmhouse needs a new caretaker, a unique opportunity in one of the state’s most storied regions.
The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites owns the 1888 house, located adjacent to the Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site in Rome City. In fact, the conservationist and author of Freckles and other beloved novels bunked with the Sower family while she was building her cabin nearby on Sylvan Lake.
By 2009 the house and barn were long vacant, and property managers saw the place as a drain of time and resources. The museum applied to demolish the house, but Indiana Landmarks intervened with a solution to save the property.
We proposed leasing the house and finding a tenant who would fix up the place in exchange for free rent. “Leasing is a solution we’ve used with great success in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, where we leased eight historic properties including the Century of Progress houses from the National Park Service and then found sublessees who restored them,” says Todd Zeiger, director of Indiana Landmarks’ Northern Regional Office.
Supported by a grant from the Efroymson Family Fund of the Central Indiana Community Foundation, we restored exterior of the house—removing the aluminum siding with help from correctional workers and vocational students—and recruited the Noble County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) as a tenant. The CVB made additional improvements, including adding an exterior ramp and a new accessible bathroom and updating HVAC and plumbing systems.
The CVB recently moved to new quarters in Albion, leaving the Sower Farmhouse available for a new tenant. The house is ideal for use as nonprofit or other public office space, though other proposals will be considered.
The Italianate-style house sits prominently at a turn in the road leading to the Gene Stratton Porter State Memorial, not far from Sylvan Lake. The interior retains original woodwork, large open rooms, a kitchen, and full basement. The home’s second floor and attic remain unimproved, but with updates could provide additional usable space.
Interested parties will need to demonstrate financial capacity for necessary maintenance and repairs and any proposed renovation work. In exchange, the successful applicant will receive a 15-year free lease. The lease agreement includes the option for additional 10-year extensions. The barn is still used by the Indiana State Museum and is not included in the agreement.
For more information including additional photos and floor plans contact Todd Zeiger, email@example.com, 574-232-4534.
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