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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Buyers interested in Stoneleigh
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Stoneleigh, the historic home of former Virginia governor Thomas Stanley, is for sale. It is seen above in a Bulletin photo taken in January.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

The historic Stoneleigh mansion in Stanleytown has two potential buyers, according to a local real estate broker representing one of the parties.

James D. "Nubby" Coleman Jr. is representing Stoneleigh LLC, a group of a dozen investors from the Greensboro, N.C., area. He said the group aims to restore the mansion as "an events center for the community."�

Coleman referred inquiries about the group's composition to Katie Redhead, a real estate broker with Yost & Little Realty in Greensboro who is familiar with the investors. Redhead declined to name any of the members out of concern that some might not want to be identified publicly.

However, Redhead said the group's members are known for being "wise investors and very good business people" who "want the best of what they can find" in considering investments.

She said she understands some members of the group have ties to the Henry County-Martinsville area.

"They have very good intentions" for Stoneleigh, she added.

"It would be a first-class facility again," said Coleman, adding that the group already has talked with consultants, such as landscape design experts.

Out of concern for influencing offers by the competing party, Coleman declined to say how much Stoneleigh LLC has offered for the property.

He was unable to identify the competing party. But he said there are "two competing offers," including the one by Stoneleigh LLC.

Coleman referred further inquiry to Keith Gunter of Rogers Realty & Auction Co. That firm's website shows Stoneleigh listed for sale for $759,900.

Gunter did not return a phone call Tuesday afternoon.

Stoneleigh, at 375 Edgewood Drive in Stanleytown, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built by the late Virginia governor Thomas Stanley, it took three years to complete and was finished in 1929, Coleman said.

The mansion has eight bedrooms, seven full baths and four half baths along with banquet rooms and a guest house, the Rogers Realty website shows.

"It's a treasure. I'd hate to see it fall into the wrong hands," said Coleman. Redhead, who has visited the mansion, indicated she has similar sentiments.

Some of the property's approximately 51 acres border the Norfolk Southern Railway and the Smith River.

Ferrum University once owned Stoneleigh and used it as an events center.

Kevin J. and Whitney S. Witasick bought it in 1998. A legal notice showed the Witasicks defaulted on a $2 million note.

In 2009, Kevin Witasick was convicted of two counts of tax evasion, two counts of tax perjury and one count of failure to file a tax return. Those charges arose after Witasick reported on his 1999 tax return that 75 percent of Stoneleigh was being used for business purposes. The following year, he reported 100 percent of the estate was being put to business use.

The government argued in the trial that only 11.6 percent of Stoneleigh could rightly be claimed as being used for business purposes.

Kevin Witasick was sentenced in May to 15 months in federal prison and two years of supervised release, among other penalties. Whitney Witasick was indicted with her husband in 2007 but was cleared of all charges at trial.

During a foreclosure sale in January, CitiMortgage bought the property for $1.12 million after no other bids were submitted.

Stoneleigh's value was reassessed in January 2009. According to the Henry County Commissioner of the Revenue's Office, the total value of the property is $1,455,700. Of that amount, the house is assessed at $981,800, and the acreage is assessed at $473,900.

Coleman said he did not know how soon a sale of the property could be worked out.


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