BATON ROUGE, La. -- A subdivision developer will purchase the 40-acre estate and three dwellings where troubled television evangelist Jimmy Swaggart and his family have lived since 1985, the heyday of his once-prosperous ministry.
'I don't know what their personal plans are,' said Brandy Farris of Dixon Realty, the agent who disclosed the sale. 'As far as I know, they are planning on remaining in Baton Rouge and finding something they can afford.'
Farris said the deal will be closed by late February, but would not make public the selling price or other details.
However, Dwayne Duhon of Aptaker Agency Inc., who represented the purchaser, FDF Property Management of Lafayette, said Friday the company plans to subdivide and build exclusive homes on the property.
The three houses involved in the purchase agreement consist of Jimmy and Frances Swaggart's stately 10,000-square-foot home; the 8,000- square-foot home where son Donnie and daughter-in-law Debbie Swaggart live with their three children; and a 4,372-square-foot residence formerly occupied by Frances' brother, Bob Anderson, a Jimmy Swaggart Ministries executive who moved out about a year ago.
According to property tax assessment records and other information, the three dwellings and 40 acres in an upscale area adjacent to the County Club of Louisiana and Country Club Crossing have an estimated total value of $2.8 million, although Farris said the actual sale amount exceeds that figure.
During its golden age in the mid-1980s, Jimmy Swaggart Ministries beamed its programs of religious fervor and money appeals to millions of television watchers and radio listeners, in return receiving $150 million in contributions annually.
The ministry suffered a precipitous decline after Swaggart's well- publicized encounters with a Metairie, La., prostitute led to his defrocking by the Assemblies of God in 1988.
On Oct. 11, Swaggart was found with a prostitute in his car by police in Indio, Calif., scandalizing anew his ministry, causing numerous layoffs, and dealing a crippling blow to its finances. Since then, the ministry has laid off hundreds of employees and placed $18 million worth of broadcast equipment and real estate up for sale.
In a related development, officials of Jimmy Swaggart Bible College and Seminary, where enrollment plummeted from 1,451 students in 1987 to about 370 this semester, have proposed changing the school's name to World Evangelism Bible College and Seminary.