Hillside Inn Sold

French Lick resort owner
high bidder for Hillside Inn

By Don Ward

MADISON, Ind. (December 1999) – Tom and Patricia Thomassen spent 10 years working to make a profitable living as owners of the Hillside Inn.
On Nov. 4, it took only 20 minutes to auction it off to the highest bidder in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court-ordered sale.

Jerry Fuhs

Photo by Don Ward

Jerry Fuhs, who purchesed
the Hillside Inn
during the Nov. 4 auction.

Resort owner Jerry Fuhs of French Lick, Ind., outbid Joyce Atwood of Vevay, Ind., for what many consider a historic property perched on the hillside overlooking downtown Madison and the Ohio River valley.
Fuhs paid $480,000 for the 29-room hotel, its contents, the adjacent private residence and 11 acres, plus a $48,000 buyer's premium to cover sale costs. He put 15 percent down with 30 days until closing, at which time he would pay the balance and take possession of the property. The sale had no contingencies other than final approval by the federal bankruptcy court judge, which real estate officials considered a formality.
Fuhs said he plans to "totally renovate" the hotel and eventually re-open the restaurant on the main floor.
But before he does anything, he wants to hold a meeting in Madison to solicit input from local residents on what they would like to see done with the Hillside Inn. He asked Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau director Linda Lytle to help arrange the meeting, which he termed a "needs assessment."
"I think we should find out what the people in the community want before we do anything," said Fuhs, 46, a motor fuel and sales tax consultant who owns the Beechwood Mansion in French Lick and Baymont Inn in Dale, Ind.
"If it weren't for the history associated with this place, we probably wouldn't have been as interested."
More than 50 people watched as Fuhs and Atwood entered a bidding war after other bidders gave up around $400,000. Atwood said she had planned to stop bidding at $450,000 but continued up to $479,000 before conceding to Fuhs.
Atwood, who has no prior hotel experience, said, "I just thought someone needed to buy it and keep it open as a hotel because it has so much history."
She joked that when she reached her limit, she considered asking the crowd for donations.
Dean Ford of Madison also entered the bidding early but stopped well short of $400,000.
Tom Thomassen watched the auction from the back of the crowd and spoke briefly with Fuhs following the sale. Thomassen said preparing for the auction was "a chore" and added he was glad to get it behind him. "It was always there hanging over our heads," he said.
Thomassen's wife did not attend the auction.
Vevay resident Muhamed M. Moussa, the winning bidder in the first auction at $440,000, failed to come up with the earnest money deposit of $66,000, forcing a second auction.
Fuhs said he would have bought the Hillside Inn at the first bankruptcy auction in June had he known about it. He only learned of the second auction nine days before.
Tom Richardson, Fuhs' director of operations for his other resort properties, will direct the renovation project, Fuhs said.
"We think this hotel has great potential and we're excited to be here," Richardson said.
Fuhs, who formed his Jasper-based National Energy Control Services company 17 years ago, isn't rushing into anything with his new purchase. The day after the auction, he left for a 15-day vacation to Maui, Hawaii.

Back to December 1999 Articles.



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