An occasionally updated chronicle of estate sales in the city and suburbs of Chicago.

"It's such a guilty pleasure..." Lynne Stiefel, Pioneer Press

Friday, December 4, 2009

Waukegan Hoarder's Mansion, Part 1

As a rule, I don't wait to get inside an estate sale. There are just too many you can waltz right into to waste time treating one like it's the hottest nightspot in town.

But. On this particular Saturday I'd already driven all the way to Waukegan. And instead of the usual five to ten shoppers, there was a line. One stretching all the way from the sidewalk, through what had recently been an ancient and overgrown yard, and up to the front door of a mansion bigger than anything I've seen in months.

So I waited. For about an hour. And as I did I overheard more and more about the woman who'd lived there. She was one of those people who everybody knows, but no one knows much about. The family had been well-off, and large. Eight children grew up here. And after the father died, his widow had spent what was left of her time and money traveling the world, bringing as much of it as she could back to her empty home.

The further up the line I got, the more people lined up behind me. Neighbors and friends waved and called out to one another, remarking on how many of them had come just to get a look inside the house they'd only ever seen from the street. Every so often someone would carry something out of the front door, and people would stop their conversations to ooh and aah, like fireworks were going off.

On more than one occasion I heard the sale referred to -- only half-jokingly -- as "the social event of the season."

Eventually, it became my turn to go inside. And at first, I wasn't a bit impressed. Not until I got to the kitchen and grasped the sheer size of the place, and the volume of stuff in it.

There was so much, and it was all so odd, so particular, and it was everywhere I looked.

Clues and curiosities, just waiting to be pieced back together.

It had been a beautiful home at one time, with the kind of luxuries most of us only see in magazines.

There was a greenhouse, gone wild.

A pool, drained and left dry for who knows how long.

Three floors and a basement. All of them filled beyond full.

More on Monday.


  1. Are all the estate sales you attend as disorganized as this one seems to be? Nothing seems to be displayed particularly well, and I don't see any price tags on anything. Is this common in your area?

  2. This house was particularly packed to the rafters -- when I say the owner was a hoarder, that's no exaggeration.

    Check out some of my other posts. Prices are usually marked on most (though not all) items, and many are much better organized. I think it depends on the sale company, the house, and how late in the day I get there.

    Thanks for the question.

  3. Y'all are such meanies to make us wait until Monday!

    But the big question on everybody's mind is, "Will we see Streisand and Kristofferson gettin' their vinyl on in the basement?"

    (crickets chirping)

    No? Really? It's just me then?

  4. Speck, I haven't committed an interruptus between Streisand and Kristofferson in some time. As a matter of fact, there weren't any records in the Waukegan mansion at all. If there had been, chances are I would have picked up some.


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