Pete Buttigieg, the newly minted Secretary of Transportation, and his husband, Chasten, are selling their South Bend home to the leader of a local community theater company.
Buttigieg said he considered trying to hold onto the house on West North Shore Drive, near downtown South Bend, after his confirmation last month to President Biden’s cabinet but ultimately decided it wouldn’t be feasible.
“Lot of memories there,” the former mayor said by phone Monday from Washington, D.C. “It was tempting to try to have our cake and eat it too. South Bend is always going to be home to me. But as a practical matter, we realized that it was time for the house to change hands.”
Buttigieg said he and Chasten, for now, are “getting used to apartment living” with their dogs, Buddy and Truman.
“This is where I’ll be most of the time and we needed to find a place here, and we’re finding that a dollar doesn’t go quite as far as it does back home,” he said.
Buttigieg bought the 1905 neoclassical home in 2009, two years before he was elected mayor of South Bend. The home, which overlooks the St. Joseph River, is one street over from his childhood home on Marquette Boulevard, where his mother, Anne Montgomery, lives.
In his memoir, “Shortest Way Home,” Buttigieg wrote that he had his eye on the 2,500-square-foot, three-bedroom house since 2008, while he was working at McKinsey & Co.’s Chicago office. It had been vacant for nearly two years and he waited for the bank that had foreclosed on it to lower the price.
He bought it for $125,000, according to St. Joseph County property records, and later took out a second mortgage to help with repairs. The house was most recently assessed for taxation purposes at $255,000.
Describing its state of disrepair when he bought it, Buttigieg wrote that friends kept asking him if he had seen the film “The Money Pit,” the 1986 Tom Hanks comedy about a couple’s misadventures renovating a historic home.
“Yet the house drew me in,” Buttigieg wrote. “This house had good bones, as they say, and just needed a little work. There was a fireplace, not working but salvageable. No one had painted most of the wood inside, including paneling in the hall. Its beauty was faded but not destroyed, and even the textures of its decay were appealing, like the irregular painted flooring of the small back porch.”
Buttigieg on Monday said even though he has worked on the home for years, it still needs attention. When he moved in, he said, the house wasn’t even “fully habitable.” It had working heat but the pipes had burst in the basement, causing mold problems.
“I’d like to think I nursed it back to health but there’s always more to be done,” he said. “It will definitely present a challenge, hopefully an exciting challenge, for the new owner.”
That new owner will be Aaron Nichols, executive director of South Bend Civic Theatre.
After he closes on the house, Nichols said Monday, he intends to use his new residence for some theater activities, including the taping of an online cabaret show in May. Other possibilities include cast parties and donor parties.
“I’m excited to be investing in South Bend and to have a place where the Civic can celebrate its successes,” he said.
The theater’s executive director since May 2017, Nichols previously served as audience development manager for Shakespeare at Notre Dame and in human resources and other positions for NIBCO in Elkhart.
The location puts him close to the theater, on North Main Street, and to Leeper Park, where the Civic tentatively plans to stage “Cry It Out” in August before it resumes indoor productions in the fall.
“It’s the perfect location as we begin utilizing Leeper Park in the next few months,” Nichols said. “It’s a beautiful historic home, and I’m proud to be investing in South Bend’s history and future.”
After the sale, Buttigieg won’t just have his apartment in Washington to spend time in. He said he and Chasten recently bought a vacation home near Chasten’s hometown of Traverse City, Mich.
“That’s been a real blessing and something we’re excited about,” Buttigieg said. “It’s a place that also needs a little work, but nothing like the South Bend home.”