New owners for noted historic Forest Park Boulevard home in Fort Wayne
What many think of as the “gem” among the grand, old homes on Forest Park Boulevard now has new owners.
Fort Wayne businessman Alex Haggard and his wife closed on the purchase Thursday and paid $650,000 for the approximately 7,000-square-foot mansion at 1830 Forest Park Blvd., said real estate broker James Reecer of the new Keller Williams Realty franchise in Fort Wayne, who sold the house.
The house gained notice in 2004 when Don and Doris Willis paid $910,000 for it during a spirited auction that had attracted inquiries from people as far away as California, Florida and Texas. It also was the first time the house, which was built in the 1920s by a prominent local businessman, had changed ownership in 45 years.
The Willises then invested thousands in renovation and repairs, which included placing two carved, stone statues of lions along the front entry walk. The Keller Williams Realty listing for the property said it has five bedrooms and 4 1/2 bathrooms.
In recent years, the house has lost some of its life and luster. Don Willis was one of the area’s best-known entrepreneurs in the early 2000s, and the couple were generous philanthropists. However, they reportedly experienced financial difficulties and filed for bankruptcy in October 2015.
The Willises previously put the house up for sale for more than $1 million. More recently, it was listed for sale at $699,000, real estate websites said.
The Haggards plan to do some remodeling before they and their children move into the home, Reecer said.
The family won’t have to move far – they currently live in a house in the 2400 block of Forest Park Boulevard, north of State Boulevard.
They also have strong connections to the neighborhood, Reecer said.
Haggard, owner of shipping firm F.A.K. Logistics, recently also bought a former marketing business building at 1412 Delaware Ave. to use as a logistics office for his business, Reecer said. Haggard also owns a business building in the 1300 block of East State Boulevard.
He attended North Side High School, and his wife grew up on Forest Park Boulevard, Reecer said. Their new home will be only a few houses south of her parents, who still live on Forest Park Boulevard.
The Haggards’ new home also comes with connections to a lot of local history.
The Tudor Revival-style house was built in 1923 for local businessman and financier Henry C. Paul and his wife, Wilhelmina. Paul helped bring natural-gas utilities, telephone service and interurban rail lines to Fort Wayne.
The Pauls hired prominent local architect Marshall Mahurin to design the house, which has decorative limestone accents and a tile roof. Elegant woodwork and other details filled key rooms on the main floor.
Mahurin was involved in designing many landmark local buildings, first while in partnership with architect John F. Wing and later with his nephew, Guy Mahurin.
Wing and Mahurin projects included St. Paul Lutheran Church, 1126 S. Barr St., the Elektron Building, 215-219 E. Berry St., and Fort Wayne’s former city hall, which is now The History Center at 302 E. Berry St.
The Haggards’ home sits on an approximately 1-acre lot that once was part of the area used for a race track for trotting horses and then as a local fairgrounds, the city’s 1996 inventory of historic sites and structures said.
In addition to the house, the lot now includes a large carriage house and outdoor garden.