Pieces of Worthington history went to the highest bidders last week at the auction of the estate of Harvey and Jane Minton.
Hundreds of buyers -- many of them Worthington residents looking to hold on to something belonging to the beloved couple -- filed through two showings at the Minton homestead on Hartford Street and then went home to enter their online bids.
The sale was presented by a company called Everything But the House, which conducts online auctions of estates like the Mintons'.
Carol Ottolenghi was one of the many local people looking to own something of the Mintons, who lived across the street from her parents, Abramo and Joan. Yes, she was looking for furniture and antiques, and a good buy. Mostly, though, she was hoping to become a caretaker of something more special.
"It's Worthington's history," she said while wandering through the three-story brick house that had been in the Minton family for many decades. "A lot of people here knew the Mintons were a huge part of Worthington, and they want to help."
Harvey and Jane Minton were the mayor and unofficial first lady of Worthington for 16 years. They retired last year after he suffered health problems, and the couple have moved to Kensington Place, a retirement community in Columbus.
They were forced to leave behind the large family home that was filled with valuables -- mostly their own but some that belonged to Mary Ellen Minton, who lived there before them.
There was furniture, art, china, glassware, a baby grand piano, an organ, a large collection of old cameras and projectors, books and many other items.
There were clothes, including a wedding dress, mink coats and other elegant pieces worn by the fashionable Jane Minton. Even Harvey Minton's trench coat, which he wore to many official city events, was sold, as were his suits, shirts and ties.
Local history buffs were drawn to the garage to admire a large map of Worthington water lines from the 1920s. It was marked, "Property of the Worthington Water Works Board."
Like many from the neighborhood, Jerry and Merci Katz came to see what they could take home to remember Worthington's "first couple."
"We came because we knew Harvey and Jane would have some very nice pieces of furniture and memorabilia," Jerry Katz said.
For many Worthington residents, walking through the Minton house was a way to bid farewell to the Mintons. If they could find a good buy, so much the better.
"It is kind of a closure thing for a lot of people," said Jacquie Denny, founder of EBTH, an online personal-property and estate-sale service. It was started in Cincinnati seven years ago and now has offices in other Midwest cities, including one that opened in Columbus in January.
The company comes in and takes over when someone decides to sell an estate.
The company assesses all of the items, photographs them, catalogs them, researches them and posts the contents on the EBTH website for seven days.
Previews are held so that buyers could see what is for sale and then go home with the appropriate lot number and bid online.
At the end of the sale, the house is emptied, and a check is presented to the owners for a percentage of the sales.