NAPPANEE — After 50 years, the Pletcher family’s Amish Acres will soon be under new ownership. The property was sold at auction Wednesday night for a combined total of $4,255,000.
The 27.5-acre property was offered in 16 parcels and, at the end of the auction, six bidders were owners of part of the property.
Schrader Real Estate and Auction conducted the sale and the auctioneer explained the adjusted acreage, stating it was discovered tract 8 is actually 1.5 acres instead of 2 acres. The auctioneer began with clarifications, disclaimers and additional information to share with attendees, including announcing the purchaser of tract 6 would also be given rights to Amish Acres Arts & Craft Festival, including all mailing lists and records of vendors, artists and entertainers, staff and marketing and program material and recipes in exchange for remuneration of 10% of the profit for five years. After five years, the purchaser would retain the rights. The buyer of that tract can also have use of the Amish Acres name for $1 a year and retain the liquor license.
The purchase of tract 5, the Round Barn Theatre, includes all stage lighting and audio-visual equipment, and the right to use the Amish Acres Round Barn Theatre trademark for $1 a year.
“The Pletchers have been very, very generous with this,” the auctioneer said.
All buildings in the auction included all the equipment and furnishings that bidders saw in prior visits, according to the auctioneer. Tract 13, which is a 3-acre tract and the Inn at Amish Acres, includes all furnishings.
The first round of bidding for the 16 parcels went fairly quickly and, at the end of the first round, the grand total was $2,893,000. Then bidding on combinations of tracts began and lasted for more than two hours. There was some vigorous bidding back and forth on a few of the combinations before the final time was called.
The final outcome was as follows: The Inn at Amish Acres and an adjoining tract of 2 acres was sold for $1,295,000. The restaurant and 3½ acres, the theater, 2 acres of frontage on U.S. 6, an adjoining tract that includes a house and shop and the three cabins — the fudgery, the meat and cheese shop and the cider mill — were sold for $1,550,000 to one buyer.
Two 2-acre tracts fronting U.S. 6 sold for $300,000 to one buyer; a 1½-acre tract that includes two older houses and buildings sold for $150,000 to one buyer; two tracts, one including a heated building with Arnott Street frontage, sold for $820,000 combined; and two 1-acre potential development sites fronting Arnott Street sold to one buyer for $140,000.
The Inn at Amish Acres was purchased by a “somewhat local” couple who wanted to remain anonymous. Another bidder on that property had the leading bid for a long time but eventually the couple topped it and ended up with the highest bid.
The theater, restaurant and shops were purchased by a trio of investors in event venues that include former U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman, John Kruse and a third partner who wasn’t present so Stutzman didn’t want to name him without his permission.
Stutzman said after the auction that they “definitely” plan to keep the restaurant and theater going and want to expand on the property’s use as a wedding venue. When asked if they planned to keep the Amish Acres name, he said he didn’t see a reason to be in a hurry not to do so, but there are still plans to be worked out. He said they may re-brand and make improvements at some point in the future.
Jenni Pletcher Wysong, who was chief financial officer for the family business, said she thought Stutzman and Kruse expressed interest in keeping the Amish Acres Arts & Crafts Festival going.
Many members of the Pletcher family were on hand for the auction, as were many past employees.
Richard “Dick” Pletcher said he was “overwhelmed” by the night’s events and his wife, Susan, expressed some relief before the auction started that they were at the point of selling the complex.
Wysong said of the auction, “I think it was a once-in-a-lifetime process. The level of interest reflected the amount of care and hard work that went into honoring the history here all these years.”
She went on to say at least three descendants of the Kuhn family were there — the farmhouse of their ancestor Manassas Kuhn was the start of what became Amish Acres — and she said ancestors of Kuhn over the years have thanked the family that their ancestral home had been preserved.
“It continues to inspire me — the forethought that my dad had as such a young man,” Wysong said. She shared the impact Amish Acres has had on her and what it taught she and her children about working together and the value of hard work and preserving history.
The interest and response to the auction, “Makes me happy,” she said.
The closing on the property is scheduled for March 31, and the Pletchers plan to hold a personal property auction March 13.