Social media buzzed this past week after a number of Crestonians walked through the doors of a Creston residence for the first time in more than 50 years. The antiquities within spawned memories of childhood, the town’s history and soothed general curiousity for architectural aficionados.
Todd Crill Auctions will be hosting the Patricia Fils Estate Auction 11 a.m. Sunday at 211 S. Maple St.
The previous owner of the residence, Patricia Fils, passed away June 29. Crill said that while the house was used for storage and the family had left the utilities on, it has not been altered since the mid-60s. Because of this, the home has sparked quite an interest in the community.
Michelle Jones, of Afton, said that when she moved to Creston from Des Moines in 1976, she began to admire the house and would often drive by to see it, as she lived only three blocks away.
“I just started taking notice, that here’s this beautiful, stately home, and there’s a mystery behind it,” she said. “No one lives there, you can tell no one lives there, nothing changes. But it’s always maintained.”
Preserved and serving as a snapshot in time, the three-story home began to stir questions in the minds of Crestonians.
“Everybody was curious,” Jones said. “Why doesn’t anybody live there? Who takes care of it? You know, it makes no sense to see a house like that cared for but not lived in. So, there’s this story behind it.”
When Todd Crill Auctions hosted the open house, it sparked even more curiosity. Crill said nearly 100 people walked through its doors last Sunday. Jones, like many others, was not about to miss it.
“I thought this might be my only chance ever, and I’ve waited 40-some years,” she said.
Melissa Fils, daughter of Patricia Fils, said her mother was reluctant to sell the home for a long time.
“People offered to buy it, but my grandma and mom wouldn’t do it,” she said.
Patricia lived in the home with her mother and uncle, Carl Waltersdorf, until she was 14-years-old. Fils said Waltersdorf was a master mason and they had moved to the Maple Street home after leaving their family farm. After Waltersdorf passed away in 1965, the home moved into Patricia’s hands. But Fils said it is now time to let someone else enjoy it.
“It’s too beautiful of a house — it deserves to be lived in,” she said.
Crill said the home has a walk-up attic, full basement, formal dining room and large living room. All three bedrooms have large closets and one even has its own porcelain sink within. Off the kitchen, there is an old-fashioned butler’s pantry with shelves, cabinets and a counter top with a pull-out bin for storing things like flour below. Crill said even the items on the walls were dated from a time long past.
“The calendar on the wall was a Burlington Route which, of course, that railroad system doesn’t exist any longer,” he said.
Crill said the kitchen has a wood-burning cook stove and the basement has a wood-burning laundry stove for heating water for washing clothes. There is a large, brick fireplace in the living room, a clawfoot bathtub in the bathroom, original woodwork throughout, an open staircase and hardwood floors. The home also has solid copper guttering outside and still operates on a newer gas boiler system for radiant heat.
“It’s an ancient system that still works,” Fils said.
Crill said the manner in which the house had been preserved was fascinating to witness.
“When we came in to itemize and inventory everything for the sale, literally upstairs in one of the bedrooms was a pair of slippers with little fine socks tucked into the slippers, like right where somebody had went to bed that night,” he said.
In preparation for the sale, personal items like this have been removed. But all of the remaining items, antiques and collectables will be auctioned off. This includes a 1967 Mercury Montclair, a 1979 Lincoln Towncar, a 1990 Cadillac Fleetwood, a Quarter Swan oak china cabinet with carved top and mirror, World War items, cast iron items and much more.
“Really, it was just a true time capsule,” Crill said. “... People like a taste of history.”
The house will be sold to the highest bidder with no reserves, and lunch will be available on the grounds during the auction.
“At the end of the day, somebody’s going to own a big old, beautiful, mansion of a home,” Crill said. “... It’s definitely quite a piece of Creston history.”