Schmidt estate sale brings out the curious, reminiscent

Hundreds of people tour the Schmidt/Smith home on Seventh Street looking for bargains



Drawing upon memories that date to when he was in third grade, Bill Hofferber said the family that used to live at 536 N. Seventh St. were “very, very lovely people.”

On Friday, the personal belongings of those “lovely people,” the Schmidt family, were for sale. The grand old house, on the corner of Chipeta Avenue and Seventh Street, stood with its doors open, welcoming the community.

“Nothing has changed for 60 years, I guarantee it,” Hofferber said, standing in the living room where a painting of a wildfire hung above the mantel.

The wooden floors, made of yellow and red pine and Douglas fir, creaked and moaned from the hundreds touring the home. Some people spotted items of interest, buying what they could afford. Others came for the memories.

Susan Carroll Smith attended school with the Schmidt’s daughter, Beatrice.

“She was the youngest,” Smith said.

The two, “Bea” and Susan, played together, but some of their activities likely would have brought disapproval from the lady of the house, Melba Irene Smith Schmidt.

“We would go downstairs and smoke cigarettes,” Smith said with a secretive smile.

Becky Brown, who owns Great American Estate Sales and is managing the sale, said it took her two months to prepare the house and mark all the items. She also knew the
Schmidts’ daughter and one of the Schmidts’ two sons, Ralph, who lived with his mother for years before she died in 2003.

“Melba and her son, they travelled,” Brown said.

They also knew things had to be done the proper way.

“They were the social elite,” Brown said.

But they were not snobs.

Ralph once commented, before his death a year ago, that his parents would roll up the rugs so the kids could cut ’em up with a dance or two.

But the items within the Schmidt home, which is also for sale at $499,000, are clearly symbolic of society’s upper crust: a wooden dresser for $500, a walnut antique chair for $350, a glass lamp for $375, a grandfather clock with character moon faces for $895 and rugs for thousands of dollars each.

“They collected them for 70 years,” Brown said of the rugs.

The bargains of the estate sale are the thousands of books.

“The books are going out of here in boxes,” Brown said. “It’s great; they get to be read again.”

The house’s “for sale” sign caught Kris Kish’s attention. On Friday, she was feeling her way through the crowd — elbow to elbow in almost every room — touching the walls, getting a sense of the home’s age.

It was built in 1909 by Henry Barkuloo and was sold in 1915 to Claud DeNel Smith, Melba Schmidt’s father.

“I love old houses, and I just like having a piece of history,” Kish said. “It totally needs to be redone ... (But) I love the feel.”

The feeling conveyed by the house is one of welcome, but it is also one of majesty.

When Hofferber would visit his third-grade schoolmate, Mark Schmidt, who was named after his father, it was a journey into another world.

“These homes on Seventh Street was where the rich and famous lived,” he said.

The lady of this house, though, was more than just a cog in social circles.

She had studied piano at the University of California-Los Angeles and at the New England Conservancy of Music in Boston.

For a time in the 1940s, she taught music at Mesa State College and organized the Mesa County Community Concert Association.

“She was a very stately, proper woman,” Hofferber said.

By LE ROY STANDISH


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