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Historic Northwest resort hitting the auction block

ORCAS ISLAND, Wash. -- The pipe organ at Rosario Resort has been playing since 1913 and, for the last 28 years, Chris Peacock has entertained guests while at the keys.

"You can never do this again," Peacock said. "This is an historically significant structure and hopefully it will stay open to the public for many, many more years."

The mansion built by shipbuilder Robert Moran is the centerpiece of 74 acres that contain 10 buildings with 131 rooms. At the end of the month, everything -- lock, stock and pipe organ -- is going up for auction.

The property also comes with a master plan already approved by San Juan County, which allows for the new owner to tear down many of the buildings from the 1960s and replace them with 134 luxury vacation condos.

"It would look dramatically different," said auctioneer Bill Vipond. "Much more high end, much more upscale."

Vipond said the master plan includes restoring the mansion, and every buyer he's talked to wants to maintain the look and feel of Rosario.

"I've talked to well over 200 people, and there isn't one person who doesn't have good stewardship of the land in mind," Vipond said.

Tom Hoolihan works for a company considering a bid for the property to build a wellness spa and world-class resort.

Hoolihan said what they would be buying is irreplaceable and while they would make upgrades, they wouldn't want to change the look and feel.

"Everything from the books that I'm looking at to the woodwork, to the organ -- it's just a beautiful facility," he said.

Sitting at the organ, Peacock said he believes the master plan will actually take Rosario back to what its original builder wanted.

"A place to get back with nature, a place to renew your physical, mental and spiritual wellness," he said. "The San Juan (Islands) are a spectacular spot and I hope to see it restored to its grandeur."

The auction is scheduled for September 30.
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