You'll find art, vintage shaving blades and 10,000 other items at this massive N.B. estate sale
750 square metres packed 'with amazing treasures,' says estate seller
With whispers of a mysterious death and headstones in the basement, it's not your run of the mill estate sale.
But as often happens in small towns, legend overtakes reality.
That certainly seems to have happened in Moores Mills, a small New Brunswick community near St. Stephen, that was named for the lumber mills run by the family at the heart of this story.
Graydon Mitchell grew up in Moores Mills and wrote a book about the area's history. He also has a connection to the house itself, having delivered groceries and fetched drinking water from a wishing well for the lady of the house.
Mitchell has heard some of the local lore. For example, how a nude statue on the front lawn is the likeness of a woman who fell and died in the house — and that it's her headstone that was found in the basement.
Interesting sure, but probably not true, said Mitchell, and likely just a likeness of a woman not tied to the history of the house.
Karena Graca, owner of Twist of Fate Estate Sales in Fredericton, is handling the estate sale.
Although there are a number of odd items and collections, she said the sheer volume of objects is what really sets the auction apart.
"I've never seen a house like this before," she said.
"First of all, it is 8,000 square feet and it is loaded with period-perfect antiques. And this house was built in 1886."
In addition to the main part of the house, there were three garages and two attics filled to the rafters, Graca said. Conservatively, she said, there were more than 10,000 items and at least 90 per cent of them are more than 100 years old.
It took two weeks to stage the house for the multi-day sale. There were dozens of tea cups, a whole room full of Christmas decorations, artwork and furniture. Basically, if you name it, it was there — and often 10 times over.
She said there were about 1,000 pieces related to barbershops, including 150 straight razors and 125 shaving mugs.
"We just felt like treasure hunters for the whole time we've been working here," said Graca.
"Some of the furniture is just spectacular and it's all handcrafted in the 1800s. To treasure hunters and antique lovers, this is a paradise."
She said her team hauled items out of the basement for two weeks and eventually stopped being surprised about what they found — including three headstones.
"Things we've never seen before. Things you would never expect to find. And I'm sure a lot of it was here before the current owners bought the house."
Mitchell said a lot of the stuff would have dated back to the original owners, who left the house to their daughter. Then, when she died in 1931, her widower sold the house with nearly everything untouched, since he moved into a single room at a seniors' home.
He said the most recent owners, the Hoopers, were antique collectors and would have added to the growing collection of items over the years.
George and Charlotte Moore — both born in 1824 — were the original owners, and their daughter Eva and her husband Frank Libby took over the house in 1911, said Mitchell.
Following Eva's death, Frank sold it to Herman Wilck, an artist from Germany, in 1936.
That's when things got really interesting, said Mitchell.
The house went from being "quaint and charming" and even "austere" on the inside, to really developing some "not quite folksy" personality, he said.
Wilck, already a renowned artist, painted murals in every room of the house. The bedroom has a large painting of Jesus on the wall.
In the kitchen — long before wallpaper borders were popular, said Mitchell — Wilck painted a foot-wide border of a Dutch landscape around the entire room.
The fireplace in the formal sitting room is actually made of wood and painted to look like marble, something Wilck used extensively in his work painting church interiors. Above the fireplace is a mural of a New Brunswick countryside in all four seasons, painted directly on the wall.
And then there are the sculpted figures — the most prominent being the nude woman on the front lawn, made of concrete and covered with a layer of white paint.
"Nobody knows who the statue is," said Mitchell, but there has long been folklore about it.
He said it's not likely to be the woman whose headstone was found in the basement.
He has pictures of the front of the house before and after the Wilck family bought it in the 1930s. It was not there before Wilck, who was also a sculptor, bought the house.
And, the headstone bears the name of 20-year-old Kezia, daughter of Tristram and Thankfull Moore, who died in 1828.
Graca ran two weekends of hardware-type sales before the main estate sale began last weekend. She said there were 700 brand-new doors alone. The final two days are Friday and Saturday and Graca said the family will keep any items that do not sell.
And in case you were in the market for a large statue of a nude woman, it is not part of the estate sale and will remain with the house, said Graca.