Bakkers Back In Mountain Seclusion
Aug. 02, 1987
GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) _ Fallen evangelists Jim and Tammy Bakker have parked their white Cadillac convertible in the driveway of their mountainside home and gone back into hiding after a drive from California.
The Bakkers arrived here, at the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains, Saturday evening after motoring from Palm Springs, Calif., where they put their five-bedroom, five-bath estate up for sale for $600,000.
Workmen in Gatlinburg continue making $300,000 in renovations to the $148,000 chalet, which is deeded to a creditor of the PTL ministry founded by the Bakkers.
Construction foreman Dan Kern, who has been supervising renovation of the Bakker home, said Sunday the couple was weary from their three-day drive and planned to concentrate on unpacking their belongings.
Boxes fill the family's garage, and a truck full of furnishings from the Bakkers' California home arrived Sunday, Kern said.
''That's all they plan to do today and tomorrow,'' Kern said.
The Bakkers have managed to maintain a reclusive lifestyle in this resort town where the 3,000 population swells to 6,000 on summer weekends.
The winding road that climbs to the Bakkers' home still draws curious tourists. They are kept out by an iron-and-stone security wall which locals have dubbed ''The Great Wall of Gatlinburg.''
The Bakkers have made only one public appearance in town, although Mrs. Bakker has been seen frequently at malls and other stores.
During the outing, to sign a replica of the U.S. Constitution on June 30, Bakker refused to answer questions about his infidelity with former church secretary Jessica Hahn or reports of bisexuality.
Bakker admits the December 1980 tryst with Ms. Hahn, which led to his resignation as head of PTL in March, but he has denied allegations of bisexual activities.
After the Rev. Jerry Falwell took over the Bakkers' ministry, the new PTL leadership said the ministry was in bad shape financially and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection while reorganizing its debts.
Falwell and other evangelists accused Bakker of engaging in homosexual encounters, allegations which helped prompt Bakker's denomination, the Assemblies of God, to revoke his preacher's certificate.