Last week, I mentioned that there was an estate auction scheduled for a house and its contents in Tredyffrin Township — 788 N. Valley Road, Paoli for Saturday, July 16. I stopped by the Open House over the weekend. Although advertised as a ‘fix-me-upper’, the statement is inaccurate; this house is a complete teardown. The auctioneer George Wilson and his wife were removing the remaining items from the house and suggested that if I went in the house, I probably would not stay long. They were right.
Probably built in the 1960’s, the brick house is a one-story style, typical of the period. It was obvious that in the past, the courtyard and gardens would have been beautiful, but now completely overgrown with weeds and vines. I was interested in the back-story of the house and its owners. I was told that a 92-yr. old woman had owned the home before her passing (her husband had predeceased her) and that her family was selling the house and its contents. As I wandered through the house, I could not help but wonder if this woman spent her last days in this house, and was she alone. If so, how very sad.
The ceiling is falling in, floorboards in disrepair, damage and holes in the walls . . . complete devastation. However, the house had a story of the grand life the owners had lived. Amidst all the wreckage of the house, were old black and white photos in antique frames from the 1930s and 40s of the owners taken with famous people. An upright Steinway piano with sheet music at the ready sat in the empty living room, a Staffordshire china tea set discarded on the floor and elegant vintage clothing left on their hangers . . . a lifetime of memories.
I asked the auctioneer who these people were that lived in this house and why was no family here to remove the many beautiful things. Apparently, the family had removed what they wanted and all that remained was for auction. I was told that this is the way families often times settle estates. The auctioneer did offer interesting trivia – the owners of the house were the ones responsible for bringing the Chihuahuas breed of dogs from Mexico to the United States many years ago.
Two very large Pods sit outside the house and are filled with antique furniture from the house; a lifetime of collections waiting to be sold. On Saturday, July 16, the antique auction will preview at 9:30 AM with a start time of 10:30 AM. The real estate (house and 3.2 acres) is to be auctioned at 1 PM. The property on N. Valley Road is located parallel to Rt. 202, although this is a section of Rt. 202 that is scheduled for sound walls. As I said, the house is a complete tear down along with the garage and other outbuildings – nothing can be saved.
In the kitchen, the dishwasher door is ajar with dishes waiting to be removed, the auctioneer explained that this was the way they found the house . . . it was as if the house stopped in time with the passing of its owner.
I left the N. Valley Road house on Saturday with such an overwhelming sense of sadness. Where was this woman’s family . . . did she die alone in the house . . . why didn’t someone care?