Loan should allow family to stay in cave home

Tuesday, March 10, 2009 | 1:44 p.m. CDT; updated 3:04 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, March 10, 2009

ST. LOUIS — An eastern Missouri family expects they'll be able to stay in their home built inside a cave after accepting an offer of a private mortgage contract.

Curt Sleeper of Festus said Tuesday that a New Jersey-based business, Logical Source Inc., offered a 15-year loan with a low interest rate that should allow the family to keep their home.

"We're excited about it." To celebrate: "We're throwing a party at a friend's cave," he said.

Curt and Deborah Sleeper fell in love with the unique geography of an old mining cave in 2004 and figured out how to build a house inside of it. But they were having trouble making a large payment that was coming due on the property, prompting them to put their home up for auction on eBay.

They no longer plan to auction the home through the Web site, but Sleeper says the house will remain there until paperwork is completed on the loan.

There's no question in trying economic times, his family's struggle to keep their unconventional home has resonated with many, including those who have been unable to pay their own mortgages or faced other hardships.

"I've got 8,000 e-mails in my inbox. Everyone wants to wish me luck, but also tell me their heartache," Sleeper said.

He's trying to catch up with comments people have left him, and also see if he can somehow help about a dozen of the people who have contacted him trying to save their own homes.

Jon Demarest, the owner of Logical Source, confirmed that his archiving and medical record company offered the Sleepers a mortgage.

"I was intrigued by it," Demarest said. "Someone who has put that much into it shouldn't lose it."

The Sleepers called on friends to help them build their cave home. A gray timber frame exterior was constructed in the 37-foot-tall opening of the cave. Thirty-seven sliding glass doors also are used as windows throughout the three-story, three-bedroom home, allowing natural light throughout the finished sections of the home.

Inside, the walls and ceiling are comprised of the natural cave stone, but it has several upscale features, like a large soaking tub in one of the bathrooms and a fully equipped kitchen.

Sleeper said almost everyone the family has heard from has been caring, offering prayers and assistance, though they have not accepted donations.

"It's certainly been almost life changing — except I'm keeping my cave, so not that life changing," he said. "I'd love to hear the end of the story read, 'and they lived happily ever after.'"


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