BROOKSVILLE — Though withered from age and neglect, Brooksville's storied Rogers' Christmas House Village almost seemed ready to welcome jubilant visitors once again. The sun shining down Friday cast a brilliant light on dozens of azaleas blooming out front, as a handful of local residents gathered near the entrance.
But they were there for only one reason: to see who, if anyone, was willing to sink at least $200,000 into purchasing the place that was being sold "as is."
The auction that was supposed to take place at noon drew no takers. And that left owner Weiland Rogers disappointed.
"With as much interest as has been shown for this business through the years, you'd figure someone would want it," Rogers said. "You can't tell me it's not worth $200,000."
Vacant since 2010, the once-bustling edifice on Saxon Avenue seems far removed from its glorious past, when Christmas House founder Margaret "Weenie" Rogers Ghiotto once beckoned thousands of visitors each year with her ornate holiday displays and home-baked cookies and punch.
Former employee Faye Petersen, who worked several years for former business owner George Rodriguez, said she remembers the good times well.
Standing on the porch, she peered wistfully inside the main house on the property, where she once greeted visitors, and sighed.
"I loved this place as if it were my own," Petersen said. "If it were open again, I wouldn't hesitate to come back. I know a lot of people who would do the same."
Tom Farner of Bay Area Auction Services said he couldn't recall a time when one of his auctions failed to draw a single interested party. He too thought someone would see the Christmas House's potential for either commercial or residential purposes.
"It's got a great location, but sometimes it takes more than that," Farner said.
Rogers said he will wait and see if someone is willing to come up with an alternative offer that he would be willing to accept.
"I believe there's someone out there who really wants it," he said.
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1435.