Artist Noel upgrades 164-year-old Zionsville landmark

By Scott Olson • solson@ibj.com

Prominent artist Nancy Noel hopes the
$2 million that she has now pumped into
her historic studio building in downtown
Zionsville will help attract a buyer for the
164-year-old structure.
Noel bought the former church, constructed
in 1854, in 2006 to house her
studio/event center/restaurant and dubbed
it The Sanctuary. Her paintings, heavy on
angelic imagery, still hang on the walls. But
the building has been relegated to hosting
occasional open houses and is rarely open
to the public.
She has listed it since 2015 — originally
for $1.85 million, but has dropped the asking
price to $1.59 million even as she finishes a
second round of renovations.
“Maybe the outside was deterring people
who were thinking it was in bad shape,”
Noel surmised about why the building
hasn’t attracted a buyer.
It once was under contract, until the prospective
buyer couldn’t produce the earnest
money, Noel said. But the exterior renovations
that she recently has undertaken seem
to be paying off.
The building at 75 N. Main St. has
attracted three potential suitors: a restaurateur,
a home decorator and another who
wants to open a wine bar and event center
in the 10,800-square-foot space.
“There is nothing left to do,” said Tammy
Kelly, a Re/Max commercial broker who is
listing the building. “It’s ready for an owner.”
All told, Noel said she has invested
$2 million in the building, including its
purchase and restoration. The most recent
upgrades, to the exterior, include new
paint, a new roof and the restoration of the
bell tower.
The building originally housed a Methodist
congregation and later became a Baptist
church. Fire destroyed the main room
of the church, which was rebuilt in 1894.
Noel said she paid less than $700,000 for
the building when she purchased it in 2006
from a couple who sold furniture there and
moved to Florida. The interior walls were
painted multiple colors, Noel recalled.
“It was really not an attractive space,”
she said.
Many of the interior renovations were
finished in 2008, enabling Noel to open her
studio, event center and café. But she put
the building on the market in 2015, when
she considering relocating her art gallery to
New York City. She eventually opted for
Aspen, Colorado.
Noel stayed in the ski-resort town for a
year and returned in 2016 to her 40-acre
Zionsville farm, where serious buyers can
view many of her paintings. They can run
into the six figures, but most of her artwork
sells in the $40,000 to $60,000 range.
She also sells online and has “so much
going on in her life” that she needs to sell
the Zionsville studio.
“It was hard for me to make the decision,”
she said. “This is like a master painting
to me.”
A three-way liquor license, an antique
hand-crafted bar and commercial kitchen
are included.
The space boasts 24-foot ceilings in the
main gallery, three fireplaces (two of which
are gas), original stained-glass window,
custom chandeliers and loft seating. The oak
wood floors have been refurbished and refinished,
with some replaced, and a new Victorian
porch has been added to the exterior.
Noel hopes a new owner will use the
space in a way that benefits the public.
“To me, this place needs to serve the
community,” she said.•
Originally published in the Indianapolis Business
Journal