Western Kentucky Botanical Garden officials have purchased WeatherBerry at 2731 W. Second St.
The 3,848-square-foot Italianate-style farmhouse was built in 1840 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The sale, which was finalized Wednesday afternoon, included nearly 4 acres that abut the botanical garden. More importantly, though, the house provides Second Street access and visibility — something WKBG officials have craved for years.
With WeatherBerry’s purchase, WKBG now owns a total of more than 17 acres.
Shana and Ed Champion sold WeatherBerry to WKBG for $475,000, said Laurna Strehl, executive director.
The Champions are pleased WeatherBerry now belongs to the botanical garden and will be open to the community, Ed Champion said.
“It goes with the garden,” he said. “We know they will take care of it. … I can’t wait to see what they do with it.”
Several years ago, WKBG officials formed a long-range planning committee tasked with exploring the garden’s expansion. Future plans included building a visitors center with a gift shop and a pavilion.
Then, WeatherBerry went up for sale about a year ago, Strehl said, but it was priced higher than WKBG officials wanted to spend. Also, they feared the 1840 home would cost more in maintenance over time than two new buildings.
However, the Champions later lowered the price.
“When we got word (the price) had come down …, it reignited the discussion of buying WeatherBerry,” Strehl said.
The historic farmhouse will become the garden’s welcome center. It also is expected to include a gift shop and offices.
In addition, rooms will be rented for business retreats, receptions, parties and other events. The potential exists for rentals to take place as early as the upcoming holiday season, Strehl said.
“There are so many things to uncover and explore with this purchase,” she said. “ … I feel like it’s launching us to the next level.”
WKBG officials have not decided how the garden’s current office/rental facility will be used in the future, Strehl said. The 2,500-square-foot building on the northwest corner of the garden can still be used to provide rental income and for other purposes.
Strehl wasn’t sure how long it may take to turn WeatherBerry into the garden’s main entrance and welcome center.
Bill and Susie Tyler bought the historic farmhouse in the early 1990s and ran it as a bed-and-breakfast for a decade.
“We had a wonderful stay at WeatherBerry,” Bill Tyler said.
More than 25 years ago, they donated eight acres to the city of Owensboro to be used as a botanical garden. WKBG was the only botanical garden in western Kentucky for many years.
The Tylers named the house WeatherBerry after the Berry family, who owned the property 75 years. Henry Scott Berry was involved in local weather reporting, so the Tylers put the two together and came up with WeatherBerry.
After decades of overseeing and tending the garden, the Tylers have become synonymous with WKBG. Their dreams have come full circle now that WeatherBerry belongs to the garden, Bill Tyler said.
From a financial standpoint, WKBG is in good shape, he said. “This was the time to do it.”
He believes the house will be a strong tourist draw on its own.
“It’s a gem of the community,” Bill Tyler said. “It should be used as a public place, and we’re eager to do that.”