HERMON, Maine&nbsp- Within an hour Monday afternoon, ownership of the Morgan Hill Event Center in Hermon changed hands for a sum of $655,000 at a public foreclosure auction.

The new owner was identified by Tom Saturley, an auctioneer with Tranzon Auction Properties of Portland, only as a local private investment company, but Saturley said the sale is unlikely to change the event center’ s mission.

“I want to stress that the purchaser’ s intent is to continue to work with the current operators,” Saturley said after the auction at the center on Route 2.

Those operators, Jacqueline and Morita Tapley, have been hosts to weddings, corporate functions and other community events at the center since it opened a little more than one year ago. The 21,560-square-foot building and the 20 acres it sits on are valued by the town at about $1.9 million. The property also has an 18-lot subdivision that was approved in 1999 but no houses have been built on any of the lots.

It had been owned by the Tapleys but was foreclosed on last month, which means the unidentified investment company technically bought the property from UPS Capital Business Credit, according to Saturley.

The bank began the foreclosure process on the Morgan Hill Event Center earlier this year after the Tapleys failed to pay their 2007 property tax bill by April. The outstanding tax balance has grown to more than $20,000 and the debt now belongs to the new owners, Saturley said.

Before the auction, which started at a price of $250,000 and featured about a dozen bids, Saturley also explained that the new owner would take on about $55,000 in an additional lien. He didn’ t specify what the lien covered.

Reached by telephone on Monday, Morita Tapley declined to comment on the sale. Jacqueline Tapley, her mother and co-operator, told the Bangor Daily News last week that the facility has event reservations booked into 2009 but some were canceling because of uncertainty surrounding the foreclosure.

Saturley said the new owners hoped Monday’ s sale would alleviate some fears.

About 25 people participated in the auction, although only a handful submitted bids. The auction featured a reserve price of $615,000, which Saturley announced once that mark was reached. Any potential bidders were required to submit a $50,000 check that would be refunded to all but the winning bidder.

More details about the sale and the new buyer are likely to come out later this month.

Another auction is scheduled for Aug. 13 for another business owned by the Tapleys, Tapley Pools Inc. on Route 2.

Unlike the event center, that business has been around for 44 years and includes a house and large barn, which houses the swimming pool business. It was not clear Monday whether the same investor group would bid on that property.