Favored spa facing foreclosure

Friday, December 7, 2007
Victorian Day Spa

Barring a "miracle," one of Greencastle's most prominent addresses will be vacant in the next six weeks.

After temporality stalling a sheriff's sale this summer, Wells Fargo is preparing to foreclose on Victorian Day Spa and Salon, 1245 S. Jackson St., owner Rhonda Stonebraker told the BannerGraphic Thursday.

Stonebraker said she is searching for a new location where she can reopen, though it's all still up in the air at this point.

However, the thought of leaving the sprawling Victorian-style house on the hill is gutwrenching, she said.

"No matter what I find, It will never have the charm of this house any place else," she said.

Stonebraker's financial troubles began in 2005 when she paid to move a second house to the property and opened a bed and breakfast.

Her spa business has been doing well and even growing, but lagging traffic at the bed and breakfast has caused her to default on her mortgage payments.

Since September 2006, before the bed and breakfast even opened, seven tax warrants have been filed against Victorian Day Spa. The suits have sought to collect back taxes that Stonebraker owes, some were for hundreds of dollars, one as much as $4,200.

Stonebraker has since made good on all but two of those cases.

She filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection this summer and avoided a sheriff's sale of the property that was scheduled for late June, but the bills just kept piling up, she said.

When she started the bed and breakfast, she hoped to cater to visiting parents of DePauw University students and eventually even make Greencastle a destination for the niche travelers looking for cozy, scenic places to stay.

The venture could be profitable, she just can't stay ahead of the mortgage payments until it does, she added.

Stonebraker said she still holds out hope that an investor will buy the property and allow her to lease the salon, but she's unsure what those chances are.

When she paid to move the massive house from DePauw University's campus in 2002, the plot it now sits on was just vacant land. Her vision was to create a spa and salon that could give weary Putnam County residents an escape from daily rigors.

In less than six years, she built a client base of more than 5,000 as she worked long hours as head cook and bottle washer -- managing the fledgling business, cutting hair and doing everything in between, she said.

Stonebraker said her business is not the only one struggling in Greencastle. The consensus at a recent meeting of several business owners in town was that slow decay and the slow economy have left many of them hanging onto their shops by a thread, she said.

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  • Shouldn't that be "your english and syntax are awful?"

    -- Posted by VolunteerFF on Fri, Dec 7, 2007, at 7:46 AM
  • This is such a tragic situation. I worked for Rhonda when she first opened and she is the hardest working woman I've ever known. It is so sad to see someone who had such a wonderful vision and such a good heart and watch their business close. My heart goes out to her. I pray for a miracle.

    -- Posted by IndyNurse on Fri, Dec 7, 2007, at 12:24 PM
  • I know all to well about losing something you work so hard for, I will be praying for you Rhonda. Keep your chin up, God may have something better in store for you.

    -- Posted by mimi7 on Fri, Dec 7, 2007, at 1:05 PM
  • How sad. The spa is a beautiful place from what I have seen. As a new massage therapist, I had hoped to apply for position at the spa in the new year. I hope that a resolution is reached that will allow the spa to continue, it is something that was very badly needed in Greencastle and it would be very sad to see it close.

    -- Posted by kassidy321 on Fri, Dec 7, 2007, at 5:55 PM
  • They deleted watchdog's post because it was critical of the BG. Unfortunately watchdog criticized the BG for bad english and syntax, but his/hers was no better!

    -- Posted by VolunteerFF on Sat, Dec 8, 2007, at 6:07 AM
  • i have been a customer there several times and i will very much so miss a place to go and relieve everyday tension and stress. God bless you and your journey!

    -- Posted by chicagogirl on Mon, Dec 10, 2007, at 12:02 PM
  • Have you ever thought of making the INN into apartments? I'd hate to see you leave!

    -- Posted by johndeeregreen on Tue, Dec 11, 2007, at 8:29 AM
  • As sad as it seems, has anyone ever asked themselves why someones home or place of business is being foreclosed on? I see foreclosures everyday in the banner graphic and I don't see them asking for a miracle on the front page of the paper.

    -- Posted by cty-govt-a-muck on Fri, Dec 14, 2007, at 9:25 AM
  • Sometimes things are not always as they seem, look deeper to find the truth. This isn't just about not being able to pay the house payment, it's also about not paying for ads, and taxes. And remember, she was already behine on taxes before she opened the B&B. If she had money problems before, why make a decision to open another business?

    -- Posted by Sharon@hotmail.com on Fri, Dec 14, 2007, at 10:07 AM
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