Sale of prominent Champaign philanthropists' estate has curiosities galore

Sale of prominent Champaign philanthropists' estate has curiosities galore

CHAMPAIGN — The worldly goods of the late Jack and Marjorie Richmond fill every room of their former home in central Champaign, and this weekend, much of what they owned will be sold to the public.

The estate sale at 1020 W. Church St. is set for Friday through Sunday, and it will offer more than just things to buy.

It will also provide a unique look at the personal side of the Richmonds, who were multimillion-dollar donors to the University of Illinois and the local community and lived in Mr. Richmond's aging boyhood home with window air-conditioning units.

This will be the first of three Richmond estate sales, with another set for 1102 W. Park Ave., C, coming up in the fall. That's the home where Marjorie Richmond lived for a time before she and her husband were married in 1988 after a long courtship.

The sale at the Park Avenue home is being delayed until the fall because it doesn't have any air conditioning, according to Mary Clegg of Clegg Estate Sales.

A third sale, to include jewelry and smaller items of value, will also be scheduled, Clegg said.

The childless Richmonds left the bulk of their combined estate to the University of Illinois Foundation, according to William Sturtevant of Mahomet, the executor of Marjorie Richmond's estate.

Clegg Estate Sales was hired to clear out both houses, and after that has been accomplished, both houses will be marketed for sale, Sturtevant said.

It has taken about three months to sort through the Richmonds' possessions and research the values of antiques and other items, Clegg said.

"But that's the fun part for us," she said.

Some of what's for sale this weekend will be a baby grand piano, Oriental-style rugs, sets of china, furniture, several chiming clocks, paintings, quilts, linens, old handbags, neckties and things purchased during the Richmonds' world travels.

Collectors may take interest in the UI memorabilia — including autographed basketballs — in one of the rooms, plus some Bitossi and DeGrazia pottery, a Bradley & Hubbard lamp, Famille rose Chinese porcelain, a dozen Wedgwood dinner plates showing different scenes of Yale University, old books, two Buddhist statues (selling in the multi-hundred-dollar range) and old books.

One of the priciest items for sale is a copper Turkish kettle on a brass base priced at $750.

Smaller-budget shoppers needn't go away empty-handed. There are also many daily-living items for sale, including kitchen tools priced as low as a quarter.

Clegg said emptying out the contents of a single dresser in the Church Street house could be a several-hour job, but it was necessary to be painstaking in the sorting. Pieces of local history, among them an invitation to a dancing party at the old Robeson's Department Store building, have been unearthed in the process, she said.

In upstairs bedrooms were found such curiosities as an ancient ax head and a bottle of mostly evaporated, never-opened Concord grape wine dating to 1887.

Much clothing and some other items have already been donated to such charities as Salt & Light, Empty Tomb and Goodwill, Clegg said.

Counting what the Richmonds have given to the university before Jack Richmond's death in 2011 and Marjorie Richmond's death last year — plus gifts to come from their combined estate — the couple will have donated about $12 million to the UI Foundation, according to Sturtevant.

Some of the money in the estate is designated to complete funding for projects such as the UI's Richmond Journalism Teaching Studio, the Richmond endowment of the UI men's head basketball coaching position, the UI Alice Campbell Alumni Center building and the restoration of the clock tower at the Champaign County Courthouse, he said.

Still more of the money will be directed to men's gymnastics scholarships, Champaign County Farm Bureau Foundation scholarships and First Presbyterian Church, Champaign, Sturtevant said.

Hours for the estate sale this weekend have been set for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with a half-price sale to be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday.

There has been a lot of public interest in the sale, and the Cleggs expect attendance to be good this weekend, said Katie Clegg, Mary Clegg's daughter.

"We have a lot of customers who sort of follow our sales, and people have been asking us for months," she said.

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