An estate sale that opens Thursday on Wichita's east side could be of particular interest to model train enthusiasts, seekers of vintage furniture and art — or to people who want to reminisce about one of Wichita's earliest business families.
The sale, which opens Thursday and runs through Saturday, is at the luxurious patio home of the late Rodger and Patty Arst. The couple lived at the home at 19 Stonebridge Circle, in the Pinehurst division near 143rd East and Central, for 20 years.
Rodger was well-known in Wichita as the chairman and CEO of Goldsmith's Inc. — a business that his grandfather, Isaac, originally founded as a stationery and book store in downtown Wichita in 1883. Under Arst's leadership, Goldsmith's became a multimillion-dollar office furniture and planning company that thrived in the 1980s and 1990s but went bankrupt in 2003. The company was sold to a Lenexa-based furniture company.
"The Staples and the Office Depots of the world were born, and we couldn't compete," said Arst's daughter, Sarah Wasserman, who has lived in Dallas since she moved there 30 years ago to work in the company's Texas division.
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Rodger died in 2008. Patty remained in the home until she died in November.
Ron Skelly of Sales by Rosemary and Ron is handling the estate sale at the house and said he expects people will be fascinated by the history of one of Wichita's oldest business families.
But, he admits, they'll also be fascinated by some of the treasures in the house, which include some valuable vintage furniture the couple collected during years in the furniture business, including a Herman Miller stool and two Knoll Platner chairs, which are selling for $4,200 apiece. (Psst, all of those are in the basement.)
The sale also includes some valuable books, including a copy of Ansel Adams' and Mary Austin's "Taos, Pueblo" that was signed by Adams and is valued at $2,000, and a $985 print by Birger Sandzen, a famous landscape painter and printmaker from Lindsborg.
The two-story house, lavishly decorated by an interior designer, also is filled with antiques like an old organ, a 1900s-era cash register and a Salvador Dali print priced at $1,450.
But the most eye-catching part of the sale might be the 11-by-14-foot model train village that Rodger built in his basement. The collection, which Wasserman said became her father's obsession in his later years, has dozens of tiny homes and businesses, a grain elevator, a lake, a water tower, a street filled with cars and hundreds of tiny trees. Train tracks circle and crisscross the village, and train cars are everywhere.
On Tuesday, an estate sale employee was going through the trains and their boxes, piece by piece, trying to determine a value. Skelly said he'd love to sell it as a set, but if he can't, he'll sell it piece by piece.
The train set, Wasserman said, was something her father did to entertain his grandchildren. He named buildings and lakes in the set after each of the children.
"It's pretty amazing," Wasserman said. "He was very proud of it. He's got seven grandkids, and they're older now, but at the time, they were little and they loved being down there. And he loved being down there with them, seeing it through their eyes."
The sale is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The home is listed for sale at $549,500.