News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 26, 2012

Billie Creek auction bids turned down

Owner wants to keep village site intact; offers still being sought

Brian Boyce
The Tribune-Star

ROCKVILLE — All bids offered Saturday for historic Billie Creek Village have been rejected, but buyers are still being sought.

Charlie Cooper, owner of the property and chairman of the nonprofit Billie Creek Village Inc., said Thursday he rejected all three of the bids received by Key Auctioneers of Indianapolis at an auction in the village’s church.

“The reason why is, I want to keep the village all together. I don’t want it split up into three parcels,” he said, explaining his desire to see the living-history center in Rockville remain a place where school children can visit and learn.

Saturday morning’s auction drew about 90 people to the site just off Indiana 36. The 70-acre property was divided into three parcels separating out the village, the parking lot and adjoining farm ground. Buyers could bid on any of the three; choose to join parcels together; or purchase the entire property as a whole. The auction failed to generate offers for a whole purchase, with successful bidders coming in at $250,000 for the village, $280,000 for the farm ground and $10,000 for the parking lot area.

Cooper said he’d hoped someone would choose to combine the parcels and keep the village running as an educational attraction. He said buyers could purchase that corporate entity, incorporated as a nonprofit, and retain the ability to apply for grants and donations.

A sealed-bid auction hosted in September likewise failed to draw an acceptable offer, but Cooper said he’s been approached by individuals who might be interested in keeping the village open.

“So I’ll get something worked out with it,” he said.

Cooper turned 81 years old Tuesday and said he’s simply too old to continue running the operation. A retired Parke County sheriff and bank president, he farms 1,000 acres with his son and said it’s time for someone else to manage the village.

Meanwhile, the property will serve as a wedding site this weekend, and another ceremony is already scheduled for next year, he said. The facilities are currently closed for the season, but the opportunity to reopen is there for anyone interested.

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or brian.boyce@tribstar.com.