Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Estate Sale

I don't know how long the auction company will keep the Twin Oaks sale link live, here, but give it a try.

While running errands on Friday (a day off, with Saturday being a work day), I noted the Estate Sale sign on one of my mystery houses. The Monument Avenue house (most of the way to Glenside) been on my list of Hard to Know When Built for years. Was it a nicely proportioned 1920s - 40s Colonial Revival? Maybe 19th century because of the way it doesn't face Monument?

The estate sale blurb claims 18th century, and now that I have been inside, I could imagine the core of it being a circa 1800 central hall house. There was a central hall (with smallish squares of marble covering the floor; they seemed at once grubby and fine) with an oddly-proportioned staircase. Of the 3 rooms off the hall, the side two felt oldest, with their end chimneys and remnants of wood paneling.

Let me pause here and beg pardon for both timidity and a poor memory. I am too afraid of looking foolish or nosy to go into estate sales (which I love for the free tour of Richmond architecture as much as the possibility of cheap stuff) with a notepad to jot down what the woodwork looked like. I retain an impression of, Hunh, that woodwork looks old -- and that's about it. That said, I'll press on with my sketchy memories.

The right-hand room had a screened-in porch added on. There was something sadly cheery about a small chintz upholstered chair and footstool that clearly stayed on the porch. Cheery in concept; sad not only in the mildew spots from several seasons, but sad in the layer of dust and pollen from this spring. A brick in the chimney had an 18-teens date etched in it, so if the auctioneer's information is right, perhaps it was a hall-and-parlor house, with the right-hand room coming later. The left-hand room's addition was a kitchen. As one so often finds at estate sales, the last renovation to kitchens and baths occurred 20-30 years ago: I remember lots of brown and gold in the kitchen.

As also often happens at estate sales, the funky smell of sadness and lack of upkeep
permeated the house. Sometimes, the damp and musty smells indicate that they house was empty while the family hoped the owner might come back from the hospital or nursing home. But sometimes, clues suggest the owner stayed until the end, shooing friends and family away if they suggested repair to those enormous damp patches in the plaster in the living room -- or a cure for that potent cat pee smell.

There's not much to say about the library, in the newer first floor addition or the two upstairs bedrooms. I breathed deep the fresh air of the big back yard next, surveyed the many sets of outdoor tables and chairs, the vintage pool, the giant oaks and minimal plants, and moved to my right. "What's this? A an early 20th century washer? Something for sterilizing jars for canning?" - Ah, no, a kiln. "Perhaps I am about to be treated to a bunch of mugs and pots?" No! A table full of doll parts! The late owner was dollmaker Suzanne Gibson.

The cottage at the back of the property featured a downstairs kitchen with 50s metal cabinets, a large reproduction Federal style dining table, a copy in oil of a 1940s pin-up type poster; and an upstairs with finished dolls in their boxes, and boxes of wigs, feathers, clothes, and other bits and pieces. If not actually her workshop, a show room? On one end of a long table there was a large stack of story books featuring some of the dolls. Who knew? Well, apparently, not many people, or surely they would have been there to buy souvenirs?

I bought 2 cartoon glasses, and headed onward to Kroger.


Anonymous said...

If you go, don't assume that everything you see for sale came from this house. Sellers are notorious for bringing new/reproduction/knockoff goods to an estate sale with similar 'authentic' items. People see a couple of genuine Tiffany lamps and assume the others are legit too.

It's not technically fraud, unless you ask and they lie to you, but it is shady. Caveat Emptor.


Lisa said...

Yes, I did know that about estate sales. Often it's obvious, such as cases of silver and jewelry that are very different, or the Danish modern stools at "Twin Oaks," where most of the furniture was genuine Victorian or variations on Colonial Revival.

Daniel said...

I'm mostly just annoyed with myself for not remembering this house...