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‘A little bit of Minnie Pearl.’ Crowds get a peek inside one of Sacramento’s historic homes

Take a tour of stately Victorian era home

Antiques hunters along with people eager for glimpse inside one of Sacramento's grand historic homes flocked to an estate sale in the Victorian at 21st and T streets Thursday.
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Antiques hunters along with people eager for glimpse inside one of Sacramento's grand historic homes flocked to an estate sale in the Victorian at 21st and T streets Thursday.

Antiques hunters along with people eager for glimpse inside one of Sacramento’s grand historic homes flocked to an estate sale in the Victorian at 21st and T streets Thursday.

The shingle/Queen Anne-style house, built in the late 1890s by Sacramento businessman Fred Mason and his wife, Caroline, is known to many area residents for its distinctive turret. It was on the market for several years following the deaths of its most recent owners and occupants, Bill and Alice Smith, who restored the home in the 1970s, said Susanne Burns of Burns Estate Liquidator, which is conducting the three-day estate sale on behalf of the Smith family.

The house has been purchased by James and Diane Corless, who plan to expand the kitchen but otherwise preserve the house’s historic features, including its signature stained-glass windows, Burns said.

The estate sale will continue from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday, but items including tableware, books and furniture were going fast. Area rugs had sold by early Thursday afternoon, revealing the home’s highly polished wood floors.

Sadie Barnard was purchasing a Victorian sofa upholstered in an eggplant-colored velvet.

“It’s purple. I’ve always wanted a couch like that. I’ll put it in my living room,” Barnard said, noting that her mother had something similar. “I grew up with stuff like this.”

Among the most striking pieces was a birdseye maple bedroom set. First lady Jackie Kennedy was credited with reviving the popularity of birdseye maple, Burns noted.

The master bedroom featured an ornately carved set that Burns described as Victorian with some Edwardian elements, including crosses and acorns on the dresser and headboards of the twin beds, which can be joined to create a queen-size bed. Burns said she has seen similar sets sell at Christie’s auctions for $20,000 to $40,000. She priced this set at $6,000.

Sets of china and glassware also attracted buyers. Matt Martinez and Ted Russert were wrapping and packing glasses, in a style Martinez described as midcentury modern, into boxes. Russert said they had just purchased a home in the neighborhood, next to the McClatchy Library. They also had selected several books from the Smiths’ collection.

Alice Smith was a real estate broker, Burns said, and did business with several celebrities and politicians in Sacramento, including Ronald Reagan. Bill Smith was a photographer who took the student photos at most of Sacramento’s schools, she said.

In one bedroom, hats from Alice Smith’s collection were displayed for sale. They included French and Italian styles, straw and feathered hats.

“She had a little bit of Minnie Pearl, I’d say,” commented Burns, recalling the comedian and “Grand Ole Opry” star known for her hats.

Ella Cross was admiring items in the “commerce room,” an alcove near the home’s entry where the lady of the house typically met with salesmen. Cross said she owns an Italianate townhouse in downtown Sacramento.

“I’m always looking for antiques that perhaps have never left Sacramento,” she said.

Coleen Shade of Nevada City said she wasn’t looking for anything in particular.

“I just came to see this beautiful house more than anything else,” Shade said. “We don’t make them like this anymore.”

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy

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