Valparaiso is buying the neighboring property at 301 E. Jefferson, which it will tear down and sell to the developer.
“In this way, we keep the corner looking cohesive and preserve aesthetics and property values downtown,” Murphy said.
The landmark home, once featured on a postcard, was visited by a number of prominent guests, including President William Howard Taft, presidential candidate and Scopes Monkey Trial attorney William Jennings Bryan, and Irish President Eamon DeValera. During that period, it was owned by Brown, who in 1873 revived the defunct Valparaiso Male and Female College as the Northern Indiana Normal School, or “the Poor Man’s Harvard,” later known as Valparaiso University.
The Pappas family bought the property in 1942 and turned it into a fine-dining restaurant that served prime rib, quail and shrimp-stuffed trout under glistening chandeliers in spacious rooms with high ceilings and fine woodwork. It had a popular Sunday brunch with a formal dress code, and a weekly Greek night with roast lamb, shish kebabs and lemon rice soup.
The restaurant closed in 1995 after business dwindled to as few as six customers a night. Another restaurateur attempted to revive it as Calkins’ Hill Restaurant, but that lasted less than a year. It’s sat vacant since Sisters Bridal ran a bridal shop and reception hall there in the mid-2000s.