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Songbook Foundation to sell Asherwood estate

10/22/2018 12AM

Asherwood estate on Carmel's west side includes the Main House, Guest House, several other structures and two golf courses. (photo by C.J. Walker)

November auction is preliminary step as nonprofit organization
seeks proposals for future of 107-acre Carmel property





CARMEL, Ind. – The Great American Songbook Foundation is laying the groundwork for the sale of Asherwood, the massive Carmel estate donated by philanthropist Bren Simon to support the Foundation’s mission of music education and historic preservation.


A key step will take place Nov. 17 and 18 with a major auction of collectible antique furniture, artwork and other personal property from the main house and other structures at the site. At the same time, the Songbook Foundation is seeking proposals from real estate brokers about the best way to market and sell the 107-acre property – which includes two golf courses – to developers or other potential buyers.


Executive Director Chris Lewis said the decision to sell the estate comes after months of study and discussion by the nonprofit Foundation’s staff and a 10-member committee formed by its Board of Directors. The project team has consulted with accounting and law firms, museum professionals, residential developers, golf course operators, high-end restaurateurs, parks and recreation departments and other interests in an effort to identify the best uses for the property.


“We have said from the beginning that the possibilities for this site are endless, and that is still true,” Lewis said. “For our organization, the path most consistent with our mission and the intent of Mrs. Simon’s gift is to maximize the value of the property and leave its future uses to other businesses or organizations that specialize in those fields, provided that their plans also represent the best interests of the neighboring property owners and the broader community.”


To conduct the auction, the Songbook Foundation has retained Guernsey’s, a New York-based auction house that has managed sales of items associated with such figures as John F. Kennedy, Princess Diana and Elvis Presley. The unreserved auction will offer approximately 1,000 lots for sale, including hundreds of pieces of antique and custom furniture, décor items, works of art, imported rugs and many smaller objects, most in pristine condition, from the estate’s 50,000-square foot main house and other buildings. A separate section of the event will be devoted to Asherwood’s library of antique books.


The public is invited to visit the property and see the auction items during previews scheduled 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 10, 11 and 16. The auction itself will begin at 11 a.m. Nov. 17 and noon Nov. 18 at the Tarkington theater at the Center for the Performing Arts, with global online bidding taking place at and Tickets for the previews and the auction will be $25, available through the Center for the Performing Arts Box Office at (317) 843-3800 or More information on the auction is available at


Meanwhile, the Foundation is issuing a formal Request for Expressions of Interest, aimed at professional brokerages with national experience who would advise the Foundation on the sale of the property, as a whole or in divided parcels, and then oversee the marketing and selling of the real estate to developers or other potential users.


The sale proceeds will help to ensure the financial future of the Songbook Foundation, currently housed at the Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, as it pursues a permanent home for its vast collection of memorabilia, sheet music, recordings and personal items associated with the creators and performers of America’s timeless popular music. The proposed Great American Songbook Hall of Fame Museum will be a state-of-the-art international attraction comparable to major music museums elsewhere around the world. The Songbook Foundation is a Cultural Affiliate of the Los Angeles-based Grammy® Museum and is drawing on expertise from that and other organizations.


About the Great American Songbook Foundation
The mission of the Great American Songbook Foundation, founded in 2007 by five-time Grammy® Award nominee Michael Feinstein, is to inspire and educate by celebrating the Great American Songbook – the timeless songs of pop, jazz, Broadway and Hollywood. A Cultural Affiliate of the Los Angeles-based Grammy Museum®, the Songbook Foundation is committed to preserving and elevating this rich legacy by curating physical artifacts of the Songbook’s creators, performers and publishers; operating a multimedia exhibit gallery; overseeing the Songbook Hall of Fame; offering programs for the public and research opportunities for scholars and artists; and providing educational opportunities for student musicians, including the annual Songbook Academy® summer intensive. More information is available at