723 Park Ave: A House with a History

by Nick Molnar on January 26, 2009

723 Park Ave, a foreclosed home for sale in South Bend, Indiana723 Park Ave in South Bend was built around 1888. You can read about it’s first owner, who was one of South Bend’s first builders, George Hodson,  a carpenter and contractor by profession in a book on the history of South Bend. You can read the plaques that proclaim it the historical “Hodson’s Castle” next to the front door. You can find it in the historical preservation committees guide to the Chapin Park neighborhood. It’s even on the neighborhood’s walking tour, called out for its “vigorous ornamentation.”

Entryway to 723 Park Ave, historic home now in foreclosure in South Bend, IN

Unfortunately the home’s best days may be behind it. Unless it can find another owner with construction expertise and / or deep pockets it will end up a vacant lot. South Bend winters are hard on unheated homes, especially those with plaster walls that crack and crumble after multiple freeze -thaw cycles. But the neglect at this property goes beyond simple emptiness. There is grafitti on a few upstairs walls, a collapsing kitchen ceiling, and plenty of actual damage and deferred maintenance throughout. 

Beyond that, you can see in the basement the size of the original furnace approached that of some condos. There is a boiler next to it that looks modern, but the simple scale of the original furnace, the 3,200+ sqaure feet of high-ceilinged space, the likely lack of insulation and the dozens of single pane windows might make most people scared to see the heating bills.

One of two stairways in 723 Park Ave, a historic home in South Bend's Chapin Park neighborhoodA final fright is the tax bill. I phoned the treasurer’s office and there is an outstanding bill of $11,486.79,including a $7,500 fine to code enforcement. On a property with an assessed value of $95,800 that is quite a balance. While the overdue amounts would be paid at closing, these sums merit a close watch on the prorations and future tax implications to any buyer.

Stained Glass window in a historic South Bend HomeSo with all that, why highlight this property? Beyond the decaying grandeur is simply the price. It’s listed by Andi Marschand with For Sale Real Estate and an asking price of $50,740. Assuming the tax record’s 3,288 square feet is correct, that makes the asking price for this house $15.43 / square foot. That price allows a lot of room for repairs.  But with this house, be certain you’re up to the task.

High ceilings, wide trim and wood floors in a historic home in South Bend, IN

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Andi Marschand January 27, 2009 at 6:27 pm

editor’s note: this comment is from the listing agent of 723 Park Ave, Andi Marschand with For Sale Real Estate. You can reach her at Andi@ForSaleREO.com.

The taxes and fines will be paid at closing, even a credit to the buyer for taxes not yet due. What these pics do not show is the 18″ trim and moulding and the beautiful wood floors, the “grafiti” is from a 5 year old with a crayon. The house does need a ton of work, but you will not find a better price on a more beautiful house.


Nick Molnar January 28, 2009 at 1:42 am


Thanks for taking the time to comment here. It must have once been a magnificent home once and I agree it could be beautiful again, with considerable effort. I’ve added several photos of the architectural details evident throughout.

Readers, these pictures don’t do it justice. The house could probably only properly be captured by an architectural photographer. However, it was the third house without heat I’d toured that cold day so I snapped a few quick photos and hurried back to my warm car.


Andi Marschand January 28, 2009 at 11:15 am

I’m sure not mad at you for that, as an REO broker, I am constantly freezing touring and/or selling these deteriorating houses, many of which HAVE been vandalized. I am just wanting so much for someone to buy this house at this rock bottom price and restore it to it’s amazing potential. It is run down, yes, but certainly not beyond repair.


katie garwood April 4, 2009 at 3:55 pm

we tried to buy this home for an entire year from countrywide ending at &125,000. Countrywide wouldn’t sell and even changed the deal after accepting our offer.. Instead they let the house sit empty for 2 years and let it fall into the state you see now.


Patsy Crowder May 11, 2009 at 10:07 pm

So-o-o is this house available for purchase or is countrywide still holding it hostage,
We may be interested in this house if it is not a big hassle to buy it.


Andi Marschand May 14, 2009 at 8:51 pm

No longer available, this property sold to a very ambitious young family. Keep an eye on it, they are working diligently to restore it to the “Castle” it once was C:


Patrick Lyden September 21, 2009 at 12:02 pm

This house contnues to be improved with most of the renovations ocurring on the interior at this time. The ambitious couple hopes to restore the exterior to its former glory as well. I am half of this aforementioned couple…


Megan Kopczynski September 3, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Are there blueprints available to the public? Anywhere?


Patrick Lyden September 22, 2010 at 1:42 am

There is some documentation at the St Joe County Library in downtown South Bend. I am not sure if they have blueprints, but if you find some, I would love a copy!


Megan Kopczynski October 27, 2010 at 2:06 pm

My mom found some generic drawings. The measurements are not included, but they were given to her by the previous owner of the home, before we moved in and lived there for 15 years.


frank r. bowers May 20, 2011 at 2:10 pm

i lived in this beautiful home from 1934 to 1938. my youngest sister who was miss. arkansas 1955 was born in the up stairs bedroom next to the mazas’ home. what a wonderful time we had living there.many happy memories. my dad was with bendix corporation and was manager of bendix airport. we went to madison school. it was the best school i ever attended. when we lived there the house had a hugh wrap around front poarch


mary Bowers Jay July 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I am the sister of Frank Bowers–there were 7 of us children and we used the entire beautiful house from the 3rd floor to the basement. We entertained many young people at after sleding down leper hill or ice skating on the tennis courts at riverside park — parties with home made doughnuts and hot choclate in front of our fire place in the library–we had Tea’s and house parties and dinner parties–we loved the house and still do. I visited the people who owned the house 40 or more years ago and they sent me the original floor plan of the house. If you can not obtain one I will have our daughter–who lives in Lafayette , Ind. to look for it –she has become the keeper of our past .My husband Dr Gilbert Jay is also from an old So Bend Family. He lived at 107 North shore Drive with his grandparents Dr. and Mrs Edwin Lent
for many years after his mother died when he was only 8 years old–She was the only child of the Lent’s.. Dr Lent was one of the founders of the South Bend Clinic.
We are so happy to know the house is being restored.
We would hope they would eventually restore the wrap around porch . It was a place where the little children could ride their tricycles or jump rope ,and a lovely porch to sit and enjoy the evening breeze on
My husband and I are 91 years old but have never forgotten our love for Indiana.Mary jAY


mary Bowers Jay July 15, 2011 at 5:00 pm

to patrick LydenL:have you read my comment? are you interested in my looking for the original floor plan?
mary Bowers Jay


Katie Garwood July 25, 2011 at 2:09 pm

The house was supposed to come with the original blueprints when I looked at it a few years ago. If they are no-longer in the house, than Wayne Doolittle most likely still has them. On another note, we are in need for a larger home and I am wondering if the young couple who owns this house is interested in selling it. Maybe they have too much money invested already in the house to sell it for about $125,000. I hope they haven’t altered the deep relief panels in the back parlor, as I was told they put the new kitchen in it( the parlor that has 3 pocket doors, plus 3 other door ways and the nicest wood work in the house). I hope it can be returned back to the beautiful double parlor that it was. Thanks!


Patrick Lyden October 17, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Frank and Mary,

Thank you for writing!! I am sorry it has taken me so long to respond! Frank, I received your beautiful letter and would love to hear more. From you as well Mary! Perhaps we can email separately off of this Forum and exchange phone numbers. My wife and I would love to hear more and would love to see original blueprints. Nothing would make us happier than to once again have a wrap around porch where our little kids and others in the neighborhood can play.

The house definitely has new life breathing into it. We are currently trying to tackle the exterior paint. Can you tell me what colors the outside of the house was when you lived in it?

I sure hope we can connect.




Patrick Lyden October 17, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Sorry, Katie, we are not interested in selling at this time, but thank you for asking. I have noticed some nice older Victorian homes for sale in South Bend. It is a buyer’s market! Good luck, Patrick


frank r. bowers January 3, 2012 at 4:07 pm

i’m waiting to hear from patrick lyden. isent him a picture of the house, but have heard nothing from him. strange! frank bowers


Katie January 5, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I just was wondering if any pictures of the Castle with the original porch could be posted on line? I have also heard that the tower may have been higher also originaly. I would also love to know what colors it was once painted. I am happy the house is being painted as it would cost a fortune to re-make the ornamentation that has been exposed to weather. I don’t care for the hot spice new colors but that’s just me I’m sure. I wonder what it is like to live in the Castle soaking up all of its atmosphere. I can imagine having a costume Halloween party, inviting guests into the formal parlor. As the guests arrive, the pocket doors are opened to double the room size. Once everyone has arrived, the back parlor pocket doors are opened to the dinningroom, with a beautiful table set for an incredible buffet. After dinner and ghost stories told around the fireplace, the best-ever game of smee(it’s me) is played…a hide and go seek game. Hopefully extra spectral guests are not counted!


frank r. bowers January 24, 2012 at 3:22 pm

i sent a picture of the house with the wrap around porch to patrick lyden ,but never heard from him. frank bowers


David Scheidler February 1, 2012 at 3:56 am

I am the brother/brother-in-law/uncle of the young family who now live in Hodson’s Castle. I spent many hours polishing the gorgeous Eastlake hinges and doorknob plates that are found throughout the house. The panel throughout was preserved, missing spindles were beautifully re-lathed and the stained glass front doors were re-finished. Little by little. I have spent many nights in that house, and there’s nothing to compare to the wonderful creaks of the stairs and floors. Now all they need is a lottery win to rebuild the porch.
Mr. Bowers, I’ll write Patrick and ask him to let you know about the pictures. I’ll be there in April and can’t wait to see that photo myself.


Johnathan Smith December 7, 2012 at 1:48 pm

I was honored with the job of restoring and reworking the interior of this historic home. I did change many things as per the Lyden’s request. I was very careful to make things look like they had always been that way. We reused all of the old doors and trim we could find. We did move the kitchen into the room with the raised panels. Some of the raised panels were covering an old unused fire place so they were not orignal. The Lyden’s did a fine job instructing me where to make changes. They picked materials that maintained the integrity and style of Hodson’s Castle. You can go to my website and see many pictures of the changes.


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