PRINCETON — The historic family home of a former Princeton common council member and longtime Gibson County Fair board superintendent is in new hands, with plans for restoration.
The Charles Steele property at 228 North Gibson Street was acquired Wednesday by Lucas Neuffer, founder of Evansville-based Historical Homes of America.
Princeton Mayor Greg Wright, who nominated the Steele Property and the downtown Princeton Greek’s Candy Store building for renovation on the HGTV series “Hometown” last February, announced the acquisition Wednesday via social media. Wright said he met Neuffer, who expressed interest in investing in historic buildings, and after a tour of possible prospects, Neuffer acquired the Steele home and carriage house property.
Steele, born in Barton Township in 1872, moved to Princeton as a young man. According to The Princeton Clarion-News, Steele, who was also involved in state senate campaigns, operated a coal and grain business on North Prince Street and lived in the North Gibson Street home for years. He died in 1949.
“I have known about the Steele property for a couple years now, I actually first saw it on a Facebook post from a friend who tagged me in a post about it, as I saved a severely dilapidated home that I now live at in Evansville,” Neuffer said in an email Thursday afternoon. “I then went and saw it in person around a year ago, always wondering the story behind it.
“A couple months ago I spoke with a friend of mine, Zoran, who owns the Princeton Antique Mall and he mentioned that the house was likely going to be demolished and he told me to talk to Mayor Wright about it, which is where that connection was made.”
Neuffer said he will likely restore the property for use as a bed and breakfast establishment. “We have a few rentals that are old homes or buildings, but my personal opinion is that the Steele property is too historically significant and important to be a rental. Several people have also said a museum would be a good future use for the property, and I have considered that as well.”
The Steele property will likely be at least a year or a multi-year renovation, he said. “The severe water intrusion caused significant collapsing to many parts of the interior, and since I do not want to simply update it, it will take longer to replicate pieces of the staircase, wood trim, and ornate windows where water has ruined them,” he explained.
Neuffer said he normally hold the properties for investment and doesn’t sell. “The work on my projects is done through a partnership with S&S Elite Renovations, which has many years’ experience with historic property repairs and restorations.”
He said work on the property was scheduled to begin Thursday, with roofers beginning to reframe to install a new roof on the main house. He said that’s the first priority to prevent any further damage.
He said Historical Homes of America, Inc. started as a Facebook page that has grown to a nationwide company promoting and saving historical properties. “I have over 660,000 followers online including 291,000 on Instagram. I have been keeping the projects for the company local to Evansville, so that I can be hands-on and keep up with the projects as well as the renovations first hand,” he said. “Eventually, the goal may be to expand outside of the Tri-State region, but we have many historical resources locally that need help and that is the first priority.
For more information about his company, visit www.historicalhomes ofamerica.com.