Gaze at Linden House from the arrow-straight, crushed-stone driveway leading up to its columned entryway and you could be looking at something straight out of 16th century Renaissance Italy.
Inspired by the great European villas designed by architect Andrea Palladio (he established the Palladian style), it features perfectly symmetrical proportions, a quartet of towering pillars dominating the entrance and sweeping, symmetrical wings on each side.
But this isn’t bella Italia—it’s Indianapolis, Indiana. And this palatial, 42,000-square-foot mansion set in 151 acres wasn’t constructed in the 1500s, but 2007.
Linden House was built for the late timeshare entrepreneur and passionate philanthropist, Christel DeHaan, who died last year at age 77. Born in Germany, Ms. DeHaan co-founded the global timeshare empire Resort Condominiums International, selling it in 1996 for a reported $825 million. Two years later, she established the not-for-profit Christel House International organization to fund schooling in high-poverty areas in the US and abroad.
“Linden House was Ms. DeHaan’s dream to have an Italian-style home in America that would combine privacy and security with great space for entertaining,” Mike Johnson, listing broker with Encore Sotheby’s International Realty, tells Robb Report.
The sprawling home, with over 23,000 square feet of living space, certainly has room to entertain. In fact, half the main house was designed as DeHaan’s personal quarters, while the other half was specifically set up to hold fundraising events and large gatherings.
Among the home’s multitude of features are 61 rooms, seven bedrooms, 10 full bathrooms, five fireplaces, separate family and catering kitchens, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a tennis court and a spa with gym and steam room.
According to co-listing agent Stan Burton, of Indianapolis broker Avison Young, the estate occupies grounds once used by the Benedictine Monastery of St. Maur. “Part of the home’s appeal is its location. You are 10 minutes from downtown Indianapolis and Butler University is close by, as are some of the city’s most exclusive golf and country clubs. The airport is just a 20-minute drive,” he explains.
Gates off North Michigan Road open on to a crunchy-gravel driveway that circles the entire property. But taking the tree-lined, half-mile-long main drive leads you into an over-sized motor court with a central ornate fountain.
Step into the main foyer to find a towering, two-story space with elegant 27-foot-high arched ceilings. It’s big enough to hold more than a hundred guests for dinner.”The room has designed to have amazing acoustics. Ms. DeHaan would hold intimate concerts here, or invite musicians to perform during her famous dinner parties,” says Sotheby’s Johnson.
The so-called “public” west wing of the home features the formal dining room, big enough for up to 30 guests, with views over the lake and lush gardens. There’s an industrial-grade catering kitchen close by. Steps away is the indoor spa, with its elegant lap pool set beneath arched ceilings and doors opening out on to large terraces. There’s also a gym, along with a sauna, massage room and hair salon.
The “private” wing on the east side of the home contains the expansive living quarters, with a spacious master bedroom offering views of the lake, a stunning mosaic-floored master bath with its elegant copper tub and an adjoining office. For weekend guests, at the end of each wing there’s a self-contained two-story, two-bedroom pied-a-terre with a kitchen and living room.
“Throughout the entire house, there’s hospital-grade air filtration that removes every speck of dust. And to cope with the Indiana winters, the floors on the main level, and on the terraces, are heated,” explains Avison Young’s Burton.
The grounds of Linden House are just as much a work of art as the house. They feature endless manicured gardens and stands of linden trees that DeHaan shipped in from Germany.
One unusual feature is the lakeside terraced area at the rear of the main house that’s again perfect for entertaining. There are tile-roofed gazebos on each side, and steps leading down to a lakeside boat dock. Don’t be surprised to see the occasional Indianapolis Police Department frogman surfacing from the deep—they have permission to use the lake for training exercises.
While 151 acres might seem plenty big enough for an estate so close to downtown Indianapolis, Burton says an additional 18 acres on the north side of the lake are also available to buy.
And talking of buying, according to Sotheby’s Johnson, proceeds from the sale of the estate will go to expanding DeHaan’s Christel House organization, which currently funds schools in Indianapolis, India, Mexico, South Africa and Jamaica.
Check out more images of the estate below: