BETHEL - Antiquers can get a taste of history at what is being called the “Greatest Estate Sale on Earth” at the birthplace of P.T. Barnum.
Thousands of antiques, including memorabilia of the famed 19th-century showman and items from the downtown store formerly called English Drug, will be sold later this week at 55 Greenwood Ave.
Kathy Murphy, co-owner of Windy Cats Estate Sales, expects thousands to pass through the sale, both to explore the home or buy a piece of Bethel’s past.
Posters and newspapers dating to 1891 with images and stories about Barnum will be on sale. Also available are a counter and chairs from English Drug, the Greenwood Avenue store run for 100 years by English family.
“Not only is there P.T. Barnum, there is the local history,” said Nikko Dalessio, co-owner of Windy Cats. “English Drug was a staple in the Bethel community for years.”
Barnum, who advertised his circuses as the “Greatest Show on Earth,” was born in Bethel in 1810. In 1871, he opened P.T. Barnum's Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan and Circus, a show that continued for 146 years until the owners announced its closing this January.
“The timing [of the sale] couldn’t be better,” Murphy said.
Mary English lived in Barnum’s home for 23 years with her husband, Paul, but decided to sell and move to a smaller home in Rhode Island after he passed away.
“We fell in love with the house before we even knew the history,” she said.
But after they moved in, English said, her husband became more passionate about collecting Barnum memorabilia.
The house was filled with more items, not just from Barnum or English Drug, than Mary English at first realized. She had grown up in her great-grandparents’ 200-year-old house in Newtown, said she has long had an interest in the historic.
“I always loved old stuff, I think because I grew up in it,” she said.
The items not associated with Barnum or the drug store will be on sale, as well., including books, china, a typewriter, a 19th-century sewing kit and an 1800s kitchen cabinet called a “hoosier.”
Murphy said the house contained hundreds of what she called “smalls,” or tiny antiques such as miniature books, jewelery, and salt and pepper shakers. Normally, she said, she can fit such in one small case, but this time she needs five.
“I’ve never seen a house with so many smalls,” Murphy said.
English is giving much of her collection to her family and keeping the most treasured items, such as the gold-plated pharmacy bottles from English Drug.
“I did keep a lot of things that are special, memory things,” she said.
But everything else will go, Murphy said.
“Nikko likes to hear the echo in the room after a sale,” Murphy said.
“That means we did our job,” Dalessio said.
The sale is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and weather permitting on Thursday.
Photo: H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media
‘Greatest Estate Sale on Earth’ comes to Bethel, CT
By Julia Perkins - Updated 5:37 pm Tuesday, February 7, 2017
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