The Ferracuti mansion has finally found an owner, and a new purpose.
The Ottawa City Council announced it would annex the mansion, 2301 Columbus St., into the city limits through an agreement with Janis Ferracuti and Jim Downey. The city said Tuesday the site will be used as a group home for unwed mothers to help them learn life and job skills.
Downey will be the new owner of the mansion. He is a former Ottawa resident and philanthropist and is working with the Under His Wings Ministry in Ottawa.
The property is expected to keep its existing single-family residence zoning.
The rest of the 56-acre property is expected to be used for artistic, educational, recreational, ecological and social service uses, which would include walking trails.
“I think it’s wonderful it would be preserved as a green space right in the middle of town,” said Mayor Bob Eschbach after the meeting.
Commissioner Dan Aussem was also excited by the mansion's new use and about Downey not needing to rely on city assistance to make it a reality.
Downey may be a familiar name to some — he's previously donated $3.5 million to OSF St. Elizabeth Medical Center for the Behavioral Health CHOICES facility as well as for setting up scholarship foundations for every student going to a four-year school at high schools such as Ottawa High, Marquette Academy and St. Bede Academy.
The mansion was put up for auction in June 2017 and is known to some as the “mansion you can only glimpse in winter when the leaves are down.”
The city approved an annexation agreement to bring the mansion officially inside city limits after a public hearing with no comment from attendees.
It was listed on the open market at $1.5 million in April and features a tennis court, skating rink, greenhouses, hiking trails, sauna, gazebos, game room, barns, five sun porches, five fireplaces, heated in-ground swimming pool, heated pool house, heated three-car garage, a fitness room, library, six full bathrooms, multiple bedrooms and more.
The estate also has the formal name of Questend and housed the late Pete Ferracuti, a longtime Ottawa lawyer, and his wife, Janis Ferracuti.
The Ferracuti couple bought the property in 1989 from James Thornton, nephew of Henry and Mary.