23 April 2012
I awoke early Saturday morning and headed to a local estate sale. Only this was no ordinary estate sale. It was a kind-of-a-big-deal estates sale, at least in Lancaster terms, for a number of reasons. First, the house where it was held was designed by a local legend of an architect by the name of C. Emlem Urban. If there's a building of note in this city, chances are it was designed by Urban. Second, it was once the residence of the Watt family, one half of the duo that was responsible for the Watt & Shand department store that occupied downtown Lancaster beginning in 1879. And even if the house didn't have such an impressive pedigree, the imposing chateau style mansion is still quite a spectacle.
The house, named Roslyn, was on the market for a cool $5 million when Tom and I moved to Lancaster four years ago. At the time, we joked about hitting the jackpot and buying the house but then realized that even if we had the $5 mil to buy the place, we'd still have to work full-time to afford the $33,916 in yearly property taxes. Ha! Now the price has been reduced to $1.25 million. What a bargain!
The morning of the sale, I figured it was going to be a bit of a madhouse so I headed out early. But not early enough! It seems that people from far and wide had heard about the sale and I ended up parking about a mile away and walking because there were already cars lining both sides of the road. There was thousands of people walking all over the sprawling grounds of the house and a line of people wrapped around the side of the house waiting to get in. I took a deep breath and got in line. I'd heard rumors of vintage clothes in the sale, but I didn't want to get my hopes up since there were some serious hardcore auction hunters there. I finally reached the front door of the house and it turns out only three rooms on the first floor were open to the public. The line snaked all the way through, shoulder to shoulder, but I managed to snap a couple of photos of some of the furniture that was up for auction. But no vintage clothes...
So, I made my way to the carriage house where all the small housewares were displayed on tables. Some really amazing things! I wanted to take so much home with me but I knew I didn't have all day to wait at the auction booth for the items to come up. Then in the corner of one of the stables I found the vintage clothes. There were only about five dresses and a handful of coats. The dresses dated from the 1890s to the 1920s. And they were beautiful. I tried to take a photo of the silk chiffon flapper dress but it turned out a blurry mess. I was too overwhelmed by the whole situation to think much about taking photos.
Long story short (well, this is already kind of long) there were some vintage hats and purses in the box lots that I wanted to bid on, but by the time I stood in line for nearly an hour just to get my bidder number, most of the boxes had already been claimed. It was so disheartening to be standing in line and watching all the pieces that I wanted to bid on leave in other bidders hands. I guess the early bird gets the vintage! I ended up bidding on one box and bringing home some vintage brass planters to put my house plants in. I'm happy just to have something from the estate and to be able to say I've been inside the house.
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