19th-century mansion goes on sale in 21st-century fashion
The online auction ends Sunday night.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR PENNSYLVANIA BUREAU
SHARON, Pa. -- Joe Dyll can't remember the last time 30,000 visitors came to Sharon.
But that's just about how many people have looked at his house on eBay since it went on the auction block earlier this month, and he expects about 15,000 more will visit the site before the sale ends Sunday night.
Dyll's house, known as the Stevenson mansion on North Irvine Avenue, is listed as one of the online auction site's most-watched items.
And eBay enthusiasts aren't just watching, they are bidding. As of Friday night the high bid was $649,999.99, submitted by someone with the screen name 1313casketcrew. There have been 65 bids on the property since it went up for auction Feb. 3 when bidding began at $99,999.
Dyll said he's been trying to sell the 16,000-square-foot mansion for some time, but had few offers when it was listed with traditional Realtors.
So Dyll decided to follow in the footsteps of the original owner and take a nontraditional step to moving the house toward a sale by putting it on eBay.
Moved from New Castle
The house, all 22 rooms, has literally moved before.
Dyll chronicles the tale on his Web site, www.mansionthatmoved.com.
The home was originally built in New Castle, but industrial steel baron John Stevenson Jr. had a falling-out with his New Castle business partners in 1899 and vowed to pull all of his resources from the city. He had architect S.W. Foulk dismantle the mansion and had it transported to its present location by horse and buggy.
Stevenson went on to found Sharon Steel Corp.
"One hundred years ago, Stevenson decided to do something different and moved the house. I decided to do something different ,too," Dyll said of putting his house on eBay.
Dyll said he had a few offers well below his $932,000 asking price and decided to contact Dan Sumner of Tradewinns, an eBay drop-off store in New Castle and Hermitage.
Sumner said he's offered other real estate for clients on eBay, but none of it sold. And this is the first time one of his items has been on eBay's most watched list.
Sumner said he's not surprised by the number of people who have visited the auction page, but he is surprised at the number of interested buyers.
More than 40 people have contacted him and Dyll, some from as far away as California and Florida.
Dyll said he's shown the house to numerous people since it's gone on eBay. The farthest distance an interested buyer has traveled was from Colorado, he said.
Dyll, who lives in the home with some friends, is marketing it in several ways. EBay users are told it can be converted to a single-family home, apartments, a bed and breakfast or a conference center or it can be dismantled and moved, just as Stevenson did years ago.
Dyll says he's willing to remain in and maintain the home if the new owner isn't able to take it over immediately.
He bought the house in 1991 and decided to sell it to fund his next venture -- an Internet-based extreme sports college. He intends to offer online courses in extreme sports, such as skydiving. Dyll says he needs the money from the house sale for startup capital.
Once the auction ends, the buyer must provide a 5 percent down payment within seven days and pay the rest of the money within 30 days.
Sumner said he normally takes about 25 percent of the money garnered from any items sold on eBay through his store, but real estate laws prohibit that arrangement. He said he will receive a flat fee of about $500 from the sale.
Sumner said he's not upset about not getting a big commission because his store has received plenty of publicity because of the auction.
Sumner and Dyll say they can't wait to see how the bidding ends Sunday night. Sumner said traditionally, most eBay bidding occurs on the last day of an auction.
"I'm having a ball," Dyll said of the auction. "Sharon is my hometown. Show me anybody else who has brought 40,000 individuals from around the world here. No one has done that."