Indianapolis 'pimp house,' possibly the Midwest's tackiest mansion, is now less than half-price

Indianapolis 'pimp house,' possibly the Midwest's tackiest mansion, is now less than half-price
Hostetler designed these entry stairs. He disdained handrails. Click a photo for a slideshow.
Hostetler designed these entry stairs. He disdained handrails. Click a photo for a slideshow.

It's been dubbed the gaudiest home in the Midwest, a "Midwestern Vegas Versailles," the pimp house and the "dolphin mansion." And it just will not sell.

Over his years in business, construction mini-mogul Jerry A. Hostetler -- who started out as a pimp, known to local police as Mr. Big -- cobbled together five standard ranch homes for one extremely eclectic 23,000-square-foot mansion at 4923 Kessler Boulevard East Drive in Indianapolis. It appeared on the market at $2.2 million in 2012, and has been on and off since then without selling. (Click here or on a photo for a slideshow.)

After its most recent price slash, it's now less than half that: The asking price is down to a mere $862,000.

The home's more unusual features include a grotto with hot tub (see slide 24 of our slideshow), numerous gargoyles and dolphin statues out front and near the swimming pool, spiral staircases, abundant round windows, curved decks and a ballroom. The home is covered in stone and marble and stuffed with fireplaces.

Hostetler's life was also a little unusual. He was just 24 (or 23, tales vary) when police dubbed him Mr. Big. He became a minor celebrity in Indianapolis and in 1964 pled guilty to two charges of pandering, or running prostitutes, the Indy Star wrote. When police asked why he did it, he said he couldn't pass up such easy money.

After a life of crime, Hostetler started a construction company, specializing in fixing fire- and smoke-damaged properties, and he began building his castle.

A three-bedroom ranch on Kessler started it all. Hostetler lived there with his wife and infant daughter in the 1960s, but the marriage was brief. He began buying up neighbors' homes and connecting them, an endeavor that continued through the 1980s. He "dug a swimming pool, dug ponds, imported fountains, added ballrooms, added life-sized gorilla statues, added -- of all things -- a stone grotto (into which he installed a hot tub)," according to the Indianapolis Star. Hostetler lived there alone with his cat.

(Click here or on a photo for a slideshow.)

The compound is mightily eccentric for the neighborhood.
The compound is mightily eccentric for the neighborhood.

As it turns out, Hostetler wasn't quite able to afford such large living near the end of his life, and his creditors eventually caught up with him. He lost the home in the mid-2000s, moving to a single ranch house nearby that he also began building up. He died there in 2006 at age 66, alone. Despite his local notoriety, Hostetler was buried in Washington Park East in an unmarked grave, according to the Star.

As for his monumental home: Florida-based tech investor Chad Folkening, an Indiana native, purchased the financially troubled estate after Hostetler's death. He's the one who's been trying to sell it for several years now.

The home's agent, Tiff Atkinson, showed it two serious buyers this month, and "although the home is zoned for residential use, she is emphasizing its versatility," the Star wrote. "She said it would be a good venue for business meetings, as well as parties, wedding receptions and such — 'formal and informal gatherings, from small crowds to hundreds of guests.'"

It's now mostly unused, but in the past it has played host to the touring Baha Men (yes, the "Who Let the Dogs Out?" guys) and to VentureCamp, a boot camp for would-be tech entrepreneurs that Folkening and others hoped to turn into a reality TV show.

Click here or on a photo for a slideshow of Indianapolis' notorious "pimp house."

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