A house with a history – and a chapel trimmed with Italian rose and other marble – will be auctioned off in Fort Wayne on Sunday afternoon.
Alfred and Karen Allina are selling their meticulously restored long-time home at 1415 W. Washington Blvd. in the West Central neighborhood – a mansion once occupied by bishops of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend while it was in diocesan hands from 1925 to 1956.
"Just downsizing, I guess," Allina, an osteopathic physician, said this week of the reason for the auction of the property known by many as the Noll Mansion, after one of its former residents, Archbishop John Francis Noll.
Allina and his wife bought the house in 1988, when it was in major disrepair, and spent more than 20 years restoring and conserving it.
But with their daughters now grown and gone and Karen Allina now retired, the place was becoming "too much" for the couple, he said, adding that he still sees patients on a limited basis.
The home came into the diocese’s hands around 1923 through then-Bishop H.J. Alerding. Noll, who founded Our Sunday Visitor, a nationwide Catholic newspaper based in Huntington, had the wing that contains the chapel built beginning in 1935, designed by noted Fort Wayne architect A.M. Strauss. The chapel was a gift from priests of the diocese in honor of Noll’s 10th anniversary as bishop.
The chapel has rose marble above the altar, carved cherry wood pews, Italian murals depicting the Stations of the Cross and stained-glass windows made in Munich with images of saints and nuns, with one a likeness of his sister, Evelyn, a member of the Sisters of Divine Providence.
One of Allina’s favorite memories is having a religious service for family and neighbors in the chapel. "It was standing room only," he said.
At one point, the house had nine bedrooms because the second-floor wing was used to house religious brothers. However, the Allinas combined two into a spacious master suite and made one into an upstairs laundry room.
The couple also completely redid the kitchen, which had been more or less obliterated by hard times. The Allinas also refinished the basement and turned the former library, with its arched ceiling, into a media room.
"It’s a wonderful family house. It’s got a great cozy feel and a large amount of space, but it’s family-friendly and very quiet," Allina said. "We don’t need that much space, and we think it would be a great fit for a family with children to take it on."
He recalls spending weeks on the chapel roof with his three girls one year, putting new clay tiles into place – "Camp Allina," the family called it.
"A lot of memories," Allina said, describing leaving as "very bittersweet."
Built around 1908, the home technically is in the Craftsman style by architect Harry W. Wachter of Toledo, Ohio. Its original owner was Robert Millard, a wholesale grocer in Fort Wayne.
Although it would likely qualify, the home has not been placed as an individual listing on the National Register of Historic Places, Allina said, because it is already there as part of the Historic West Central Neighborhood. He said that designation could be pursued by a new owner, although there might be restrictions unless the home becomes a commercial property.
The fully restored house, near Swinney Park, was on the annual West Central historic home and garden tour in 2008.
Sales material for the auction notes that some furnishings and personal property will be sold at the same time as the home. Noted are the 8,300-square-foot home’s "grand staircase," spacious foyers, leaded-glass interior French doors to the dining room, a wrap-around three-season room, three fireplaces, three full baths and two half-baths, fitness room with whirlpool and sauna, workshop, art studio and extensive gardens.
The auction, by Scheerer McCulloch, Fort Wayne, starts at noon at the property. It will sell regardless of price, although it is listed with an appraised value of about $490,000 on one online real estate site. More auction information is available at www.scheerermcculloch.com.