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Barry Schrader


I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website each week and be added to the archives.

The Articles started December 2007.


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Historical estate sale attracts 2,000 lookers

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................May 15, 2012

DeKalb witnessed its own version of the TV program “Antiques Roadshow” earlier this month when the Nehring estate sale was held at 417 N. First St.

Shirley Hamilton-Nehring, widow of the late Paul Nehring, decided after living in the stately old Tudor Revival house next door to the Ellwood House Museum since their marriage in 1989, it was time to return to her lakeside home in Wisconsin. She recently donated the mansion to the Ellwood House Association and sold much of the contents.

Tom Krupp, co-owner of Coy-Krupp Conducted Sales, estimated nearly 2,000 people came through the house during the two-day event May 5 and 6. I was one of those who found the eclectic variety of furnishings, artwork, books and historical memorabilia too fascinating to not be there.

Dick Anderson of DeKalb bought this Stetson hat for a few dollars, once worn by the late Paul Nehring.
(Barry Schrader photo)

The highest priced item, an Italian marble statuary of a young woman that had once been in the Dutton house in Sycamore, sold for $45,000 the first day. Most of the European art masterpieces sold the first day, and most of the furniture likewise went quickly.

For those who came to buy, browse or just see the interior of this 112-year-old house – modeled after an English country manor house once visited by the Perry Ellwoods – it seemed like being part of “Antiques Roadshow.” Each room contained 18th and 19th century items, many from overseas, and all of them genuine antiques.

One woman told me she had driven by the house all her life and wanted to see what it looked like inside. Local historian Steve Bigolin said it was designed by architect Charles Brush, who had just completed Altgeld Hall on the Northern Illinois University campus between 1895 and 1899, which was a much bigger project.

Krupp said some of the most interesting items were remnants of a Lincoln collection owned by Nehring’s father. Not of great value but nonetheless very collectible, they all were sold early the first day. I was drawn to the library, where hundreds of volumes lined the walls in built-in bookcases. A local attorney, who is a well-known book collector, said he came both days and found a valuable first edition for only $1.25.
My surprise find was a book titled “From Ox Carts to Jets” published in 1959, covering the life of Roy Ingersoll and Borg-Warner. For those who think the title sounds familiar, it was four years later that the book on DeKalb Country’s history, “From Oxen to Jets,” was published, and one wonders whether the idea for that title came from this earlier one. Probably only the late Harriet Wilson Davy, who edited the 1963 DeKalb County history, would be able to confirm that theory.

Shirley Hamilton-Nehring said she was donating the remaining books and other unsold items to the DeKalb Public Library, which can offer them in its sale fall sale. She was honored that same weekend by the Kishwaukee Symphony Associates for the 11 years she has opened her home for a fundraising tea and support of music and the arts in DeKalb.

I felt like I was a part of history, rubbing elbows with many other curious people, as we explored this landmark that will become part of the Ellwood historical site and be available for many social and cultural events. Thanks to Mrs. Hamilton-Nehring for making it possible.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115