By CHRIS MORRIS
NEW ALBANY —
An important piece of New Albany’s history has been given new life.
The Pepin Mansion, located at 1003 E. Main St., was constructed in 1851 and is an example of Italian Villa architecture. After sitting dormant and in disrepair for years, Louisville businessman Ron Smith had an idea after touring the home. It’s taken five years, but that idea resulted in the historic property being transformed into a bed and breakfast, retreat center, and wedding and reception hall.
The transformation was not completed overnight. Smith took his time and made sure to maintain the home’s historic integrity, including replacing the windows with exact hand-made replicas.
“He’s done a tremendous job,” said Greg Sekula, director of Historic Landmarks of Indiana Southern Office. “I think this is one of New Albany’s finest historic properties.”
The mansion has been opened since March, but Thursday afternoon One Southern Indiana held a ribbon cutting and open house at the facility.
Smith bought the home, which was in foreclosure five years ago. He had a partner when he began the business venture, but that partner left a year later, leaving Smith with the home and the daunting task of restoring it.
“Failure was not an option,” Smith said. “It was kind of the white elephant of the community. I am very proud of it.”
The home was completely restored and has all-new electric, plumbing, heating and cooling system as well as appliances. It took three years to finish the work.
The upstairs bedrooms can sleep 20 and the home has a grand ballroom and bridal suite. Smith said up to 120 people can be accommodated on the first floor. The large backyard is also available for weddings or other events. Smith said out-of-town wedding guests can stay upstairs at the home, which he said “is better than a hotel.”
Unlike some reception/event facilities, customers are also able to choose their own caterer, disc jockey and florist, according to Smith.
“The good thing about the home is that it is very flexible,” he said. “It can be used for different things and can accommodate a lot of folks. We can do retreats here, which I think is very unique.”
Those in attendance Thursday were impressed with the final result.
“This is something we can all be proud of and celebrate,” said Wendy Dant Chesser, president and CEO of One Southern Indiana.
“This street is so historical ... this just adds to it. It’s a great place,” said Joe LaRocca, chief executive officer of the YMCA of Southern Indiana and president of Develop New Albany.
The Pepin Mansion has 25 rooms and is across the street from the Culbertson Mansion. For rental information call 812-725-9186, 502-758-1524 or go to www.thepepinmansion.com. Business meetings at the facility during the month of May are free, Smith said.