CROGHAN — The Basselin House is inspiring the village’s historians to once again seek a way to preserve and purchase the property for the benefit of the community, but with the challenges faced last year, there is more skepticism about what is possible.
As the owner and operator of her own real estate company, Crown Jules Realty, and co-historian for the village, Julie L. Robinson has been able to use her work to serve her passions for history, architecture and her community by looking for the “right owner” for the mansion at 9757 Route 812.
Earlier in July, when a potential buyer interested in restoring Basselin House and potentially using the property for the community’s benefit fell through, Mrs. Robinson reached out on social media to check on community interest in the property this year.
Last year, the idea was floated to form a Limited Liability Company as a vehicle through which community members could buy-in and be shareholders in the property to be used as a community meeting venue and a bed and breakfast.
The idea was set aside when a Beaver Falls native living in California showed serious interest in purchasing and preserving the property. However, the funding wasn’t there, Mrs. Robinson said.
Earlier in July, Mrs. Robinson reached out to the community for ideas and she is figuring out what is possible.
“Just because we run the Croghan Village History page on Facebook, we don’t have the ability to apply for grants or find funding to buy the place for the community,” Mrs. Robinson said, “I was told it would take 100 hours just to fill out the application. I don’t know where I would find that time. Everybody wants a partner in something this big.”
She recently met with the Lewis County Historical Society to see if it’s possible to form an organization under their umbrella and is waiting for a response and she reached out to the Community Foundation earlier in the year.
Representatives from the Lewis County economic development and planning departments are each looking for opportunities to help Mrs. Robinson’s effort, and she believes they will also speak to the mayor.
Up to this point, Mrs. Robinson said the mayor and village board have not been supportive of the community purchase idea, so she appreciates the effort.
Mrs. Robinson and her co-historian Dawn M. Ashline have a $500 budget from the village for the year.
Although her company is listing the property for the current owner, Thomas Horne, for free, she tells all prospective buyers that she isn’t necessarily objective because she wants to find someone to buy the place that won’t leave it to languish and become derelict.
Mr. Horne had reached out to her at the end of June when an interested buyer contacted him through Zillow, but that person has changed his mind, citing personal reasons.
At $175,000, the price of the mansion, the 1.6 acre property and out-buildings is at the lowest point since 2004 when Mr. Horne purchased it for $180,000 from Larry and Carol Brundege.
The Brundeges ran a bed and breakfast, a flower shop and an antique shop out of the property.
Mrs. Robinson said after a recent tour she was impressed with its current condition. The main repairs needed are the roof, the porch and the ceiling in one room.
“I left there just giddy, it was so much better than five years ago,” she said, “The interior is absolutely beautiful.”
The mansion was built in 1859 by lumber magnate Theodore Basselin, one of the village’s most important figures, according to Mrs. Robinson.
“I think something’s going to give,” Mrs. Robinson said, despite her frustration in finding the right path and people who are willing to invest more than words in the project.
For more information, contact Mrs. Robinson at Crown Jules Realty, 315-777-2689.