Inside the Lucas Estate
HAMILTON COUNTY - Most travelers will tell you that there is no place like home, and there may be no place in central Indiana like the Lucas family estate in Hamilton County.
The Lucases have spent months re-making the former Hilbert Mansion to fit their own taste and style. Forrest and Charlotte Lucas revealed to Eyewitness News what they've done with the place. They are ready to host.
The estate cost $35 million to build in the 1990s. It sat on the market for five years, until Forrest and Charlotte Lucas bought it last year at auction for just $3 million.
The new owners got a bargain on the elite estate, but here it's still all about luxury. Standing on the front porch, Forrest Lucas admitted, "It's fun to look at, isn't it? It is beautiful to look at."
They bought the home last October.
"Just keep looking. You are always finding something new," he said.
Yet more than year later, they are still getting acclimated to the massive 25,000-square-foot home and 33.6-acre grounds.
"The cost of living here, if you were just going to live here, would be totally impractical; the cost and maintenance of the house. So it is for sharing," said Lucas.
Instead of a family home, the Lucases see this as a luxurious and unique place for parties.
"We kind of look at this as something of a charity to share it with people. Charities come here and make money," said Lucas.
The bills have added up. The couple has a full time staff of five and have spent millions more than the purchase price renovating. Most of the work is outside, in the form of landscaping.
"One day I looked out the window and there on the other side of the walkway, Forrest is down on his hands and knees working with the guys that are laying the sod because they were leaving gaps and he said no and he showed him how he wanted it done," said Charlotte Lucas.
The hands-on owners soon realized they needed to be on property to oversee daily decisions. They came to stay one night and ended up staying three months. Problems kept cropping up in the property that had stayed empty for so long.
Our tour revealed few changes in the two-story library and little need for the expansive master closets - Charlotte's side revealing just five pairs of shoes.
During our tour, they were still searching for light switches.
"I tell you we are still learning. We have to hunt sometimes - Okay, where is the light thing?" said Charlotte.
They are proud of personal touches like works by portrait artist Dmitri Vail.
"I picked him out because he looked a little like me, and I can say 'look what I did!'" said Forrest, laughing.
Their rules for decorating were simple.
"I want everything made in America and very comfortable," said Forrest.
They researched the origin of couches and cocktail tables to make sure nothing was imported, and they suggest we do the same.
"We got to get jobs going and it's simply going to take people demanding American-made stuff," said Forrest.
The murals overhead are the same. Former owner Steve Hilbert, believed to be the inspiration for one image, remains.
The upstairs bedrooms are all redone.
An elevator will take you down to the party level where there is a dance floor. They have go-go lights...but no fog machine.
The estate has hosted five events so far. Eyewitness News was there for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra's introduction of its new conductor Krzysztof Urbanski.
On busy days there were 50 to 60 workers on site working to make the place ready to host a party.
Forrest says he's questioned the decision to buy the property "a time or 12" but adds, "Once people started coming and enjoying themselves it was all worth it."
For inquiries about scheduling an event at the Lucas Estate, please contact Terina Perry at (317) 858-8811.