Emmaus House

Emmaus House in Marthasville.

The historic Emmaus Home in Marthasville, a German-style limestone building dating back to the 1850s, will be put up for auction this month. Open houses will be held Saturday, Oct. 17, and Sunday, Oct. 18, from noon to 2 p.m. both days. The bidding will end at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29.

Also up for auction will be tracts of the surrounding campus, which includes other historic buildings and acreage.

The Emmaus organization provides support services to adults with developmental disabilities to help them live independently, which has been its mission for 125 years. In recent years, the organization has transitioned from a couple of central campuses to several smaller group homes where three to four patrons live together. This change was prompted by updates to federal regulations, and the transition ended about 18 months ago. The Marthasville campus has sat empty since then, and Emmaus officials said it has been difficult to maintain the building and prevent vandalism.

Trophy Properties and Auction, a Missouri-based auction company, is coordinating the auction. There are three tracts currently up for auction, and the opening bids are $250,000 (50-plus acres), $100,000 (12-plus acres) and $50,000 (6-plus acres), respectively.

In addition to the property up for bid, there are undeveloped tracts of land available for sale through the company’s website, trophypa.com. Emmaus also donated some acres and one building to Temco Inc., an area organization proving employment opportunities to people with developmental disabilities.

The main structure has been many things in its 170-plus years. According to the Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation, it was originally a seminary, part of a five-building campus completed in 1859 that housed the German Evangelical Church. The campus grew to include other buildings, and the seminary moved to St. Louis in 1883 and later became Eden Seminary. In 1893, the Marthasville location’s name changed to Emmaus Asylum for Epileptics and Feeble Minded. Eventually the campus, and a second campus in St. Charles, became the Emmaus Homes.

Per the auction listing, Emmaus hopes that listing the property on the Places in Peril will grab the attention of a preservation-minded developer. The campus buildings, which have seen few modifications over the years, are described as “representative of the tenacity of some of Missouri’s earliest Germans.”

Lisa Key, Emmaus Homes’ chief development officer, told The Missourian that the craftsmanship of the buildings are just beautiful, but Emmaus is not able to effectively preserve the site’s historic structures.

“We are not in the business of maintaining historic buildings,” Key said. “We’re in the business of serving people with disabilities. Since we have not been providing services on that campus, it’s been hard for us to manage it.”

Key said Emmaus hopes to get at least $3 million for everything. The money would be used to help offset some of the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has brought on Emmaus, such as having to cancel its major fundraisers and being short-staffed.

“Those sale proceeds will be reinvested back into the organization and in our endowment  to continue to sustain our mission and ministry to ensure we can continue our legacy of providing services to people who are disabled,” Key said.

More information on the auction is available at auctionzip.com/listings/3480314.