Developer prepares plot for business

GREENFIELD – First, the soaring evergreens came down. They became a neat stack of logs, and then those were gone.

Then, bulldozers pulled down the yellow walls of the last remaining house on the stretch of land.

A three-acre plot once holding a century-old house and grove of tall trees at Meridian Road and Main Street is being prepared for commercial development — and while rumors have been swirling about what will take up residence in the spot, no deals have been signed, officials say.

Pride Investment Partners, a real estate developer, purchased the lot at the northwest corner of Meridian Road and Main Street this summer from the Fiega family and has cleared the site for sale to companies ready to build, said Stephanie White-Longworth, co-owner of Pride Investment Partners.

PIP, which also operates under the name K&S Real Estate Holdings, purchased the lot for about $550,000 in late June, according to county records. PIP has no plans to do anything further with the property this year unless it sells, White-Longworth said.

The company owns several parcels of land its owners believe will be perfect for future development opportunities, including this lot, she said. It was on their radar for several years, and when it became available, they decided to invest in it for potential development or sale in 2018.

The lot is zoned for commercial use. White-Longworth envisions a gas station and convenience store being built on the site, she added.

The house, 2210 W. Main St., razed to make way for businesses, was owned for decades by descendants of the Annarino family, longtime owners of the Appledale Farm, an apple orchard, said former resident Rosemary Logan.

The home was built in 1914 and was noted as contributing to the uniqueness of the county’s historic district on the Hancock County Interim Report, part of Indiana Historic Landmarks’ ongoing Historic Sites and Structures Inventory.

The home wasn’t deemed historically significant enough to earn a spot on the Historic Register, said tourism director Brigette Cook Jones. The register is reserved for houses in good condition and bearing original trim, architecture and other markers. Hancock County’s report was last updated in 1983, she said.

The family purchased the farm in 1939, when it was known as Hammer’s Orchard. It once comprised some 40 acres on the city’s west side and operated as an apple orchard until the late 1950s.

During the years of the second World War, Italian prisoners of war picked tomatoes on the farm, according to Daily Reporter archives.

Logan lived there for 22 years, she said. No one has lived there since the late 1990s because the heat bills were “astounding,” she said.

Logan’s niece, Diana Fiega, who now lives in Indianapolis, lived from toddler age until she was 10 or 12 in the house, she said. She heard many tall tales about the house, including a rumor that Johnny Appleseed himself planted some of the apple trees in the orchards. She remembers tales of a loose brick in the fireplace where valuables were stored and an underground tunnel that led to the orchard, but said she never was able to verify them.

“I have all kinds of good, good memories,” she said. “It makes me sad to see the house go, but that’s progress.”

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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or rhatcher@greenfieldreporter.com.