Wednesday, July 28, 2010

If I Had A Million Dollars

If I had a million dollars ... (think the Barenaked Ladies song) ... OK, if I had $2.9 million dollars (and still had to live in Indianapolis) I'd buy this house -

Isn't it pretty?  Recently listed for sale, this 22-acre Indianapolis estate named "Twin Oaks" was owned by the late reclusive philanthropist Ruth Lilly.  Lilly was the sole living heiress to the Indianapolis based Eli Lilly and Company pharmaceutical fortune built by her great-grandfather Colonel Eli Lilly.

The gated property includes a 7,726 square foot home, a guest house of about 2,000 square feet and formal gardens.  In addition, the house and grounds benefit from one of the most important elements in real estate - location, location, location!  It is located off of a terrific street in a great location in the city of Indianapolis.  Ruth Lilly lived in this house until her death last year at age 94.  She gave away an estimated $800 million in her lifetime.

The back of the house - 

I was unable to find photos of the interior of the house although I did find a short news clip of a video tour of part of the interior.  The lack of information regarding the inside of the house leads me to believe the home most likely suffers from dated interiors.  So, I am estimating I will need about $5 million instead of the $2.9 for which I originally wished.

The guest house -

I feel Twin Oaks would have great karma.  I could be very happy there ... If I had a million dollars ... I would not buy this piece of ridiculousness also currently for sale in the Indianapolis area (Carmel, IN to be exact) -

This property once belonged to the Conseco Insurance founder Stephen Hilbert who built the 25,000 square foot mansion in 1993 for $35 million.  In addition to the house this 40-acre estate features a 15,000 square foot "sports palace", guest house, catering facilities and power plant.  Stephen Hilbert and his wife Tomisue (yes, I said Tomisue) named this ... ummm ... place "Le Chateau Renaissance".

The pool and pool house -

Notice above I mentioned the property "once belonged" to Stephen Hilbert.  Hilbert lost ownership of the Le Chateau Renaissance to Conseco, the company he founded, to repay money he borrowed from Conseco.  Conseco has since been renamed CNO Financial Group. CNO won control of the property during a court battle stemming from loans that Hilbert took out to buy company stock.  Sounds like a continuous loop to me.

Don't get me wrong, the exterior of this house is very attractive, but come on, this is the Crossroads of America we're talking about here not France!

The back of the house - 

The estate was most recently listed for sale at $9.9 million - less than half of the original asking price and a third of the $30 million it was estimated to be worth in 2001.  Wow.  Bad investments all around.  The property has been on the market for 5 years.  I guess I'm not the only one not in the market for a Le Chateau.

The gardens -

Hilbert attended Indiana State University for two years, but dropped out to sell encyclopedias for Grolier and then worked for the encyclopedia publisher in its Chicago office as training director.  Before entering into the insurance business Hilbert worked for RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co.

The sports palace -

Last but not least, whoever buys this silliness will inherit a mural on the entryway domed ceiling that includes a likeness of Hilbert as a Greek god.  I guess you could call this the icing on the Le Chateau -


  1. You left out the part about how TomiSue and Hilbert met - when she jumped out of his son's birthday cake at a party.

    Last I heard, those two were "slumming it" in Coppergate near West 86th.

  2. As I always say, having a little age improves houses and people. Well, maybe I don't always say that, but I should.

  3. Raina - are you serious about how they met? Wow. Nice.

  4. Oh yeah. I was working on the house of a Conseco VP when the whole TomiSue thing happened. Steve sent her to finishing school early in the relationship to soften those rough edges.

    The wife of the VP was forced by her husband to attend TomiSue's baby shower. She asked me "What do you buy a woman like that?" I suggested something Swarovski.

  5. Well, the Swarovski suggestion was a good one.

    Where is she from originally?

  6. She's from the Indy area. There was an Indianapolis Monthly cover article on her in either 1995 or 1996. You might be able to find it online.

  7. Found the article. This is a MUST READ for anyone even slightly interested in the Hilbert's. Here's the link, then go to page 180:

  8. I'll take ANY of these, thank you!
    <3 Cara

  9. I could just follow the scoop from you & Raina all day! Fascinating homes and uber fascinating Hilbert's. Hilbert in the image of a Greek god in his entry way...pha..leeeze. I hope they are sharing a box of Kraft Mac & Cheese with Ruth Maydoff.

  10. Correction - the article I mentioned above is on page 108.