FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — A former downtown funeral home located in the West Central Neighborhood will find a new life as a special events center called Belle Castle.
Before the Richardsonian-style building at 420 W. Wayne Street was a funeral home, it was the family home of former Indiana State Senator and Civil War Veteran Robert C. Bell and his wife Clara.
“It was built between 1893 and 1895, owner Robert Clark Bell,” said Carlene Gray with Belle Castle Enterprise. “He commissioned Wing and Mauhrin to build the house and they built our history center here in Fort Wayne as well as the Bass Mansion.”
After Bell died at his home in 1901, his wife sold the Indiana limestone home to the businessman William Nobel in 1904. Nobel would go on to sell it to William R. Klaehn in 1926 and it would go on to spend the next 92 years as a funeral home most recently known as Klaehn, Fahl, and Melton Funeral Home. The three-story, 14,130 square-foot space would go back on the real estate market in 2018 where it would stay until 2020 when an investor with plans to restore the building purchased it. They hope to reopen it as a special events center to be called Belle Castle.
“We are going to turn the building into an event center for hopefully wedding receptions, bridal parties, any kind of banquets, special events, that sort of thing,” said Gray. “Most of the rooms upstairs will be overnight rooms at some point.”
They also hope to become involved in West Central Neighborhood traditions and are even exploring the possibility that the building may be haunted. Gray said she had not heard any specific stories but given the building’s past and its proximity to Pfieffer House, which many have claimed to be haunted, the group figured it could be in the realm of possibility.
According to Gray, this particular building appealed to them because of the history carved into its walls.
“It’s such an extraordinary building, it’s filled with local history,” said Gray. “We love old houses and antiques and this is just a dream building to be able to walk into and experience even with it the way it is right now.”
The group is hoping to have it ready to rent by late spring or early summer.
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