By Pat Loeb

VENTNOR, NJ (CBS) – Hundreds of people waited in line yesterday for a chance to see the inside of a beachfront villa that has been a vacation house for retired Catholic priests for the last 50 years. The Philadelphia Archdiocese is auctioning it off next month to help close a $7-million budget deficit.

“People love the gardens. To have that amount of property at the beach is unheard of,” says auctioneer Bob Dann, who knew he was going to get a lot more lookers than serious bidders, but he understood.

“It’s so beautiful from the outside that everyone wants to see the inside.”

Visitors found the 10,000 square foot house has many beautiful features on the inside too.

“Opulent,” described one visitor. “Eleven bedrooms, 11 baths. It would make a good bed and breakfast.”

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The den inside St. Joseph Villa. (Credit: Pat Loeb)

But the consensus was the real value is the lot, a square block sitting on Ventnor’s boardwalk.

“I think the house itself is outdated,” says one woman who toured the property, “but the property is magnificent. A+.”

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A view from the deck of St. Joseph Villa. (Credit: Pat Loeb

Dann declined to estimate what the property might go for but realtors estimate it would $4-$5 million.

The villa is one of several properties the Archdiocese is selling. CBS 3 is reporting that another prime holding– the Archbishop’s Residence– is being sold to St. Joe’s University for $10 million.

READ: CBS3 Exclusive: St. Joseph’s University Poised To Purchase Archbishop’s Residence

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