Thursday, April 27, 2017


When you meet Cynthia Weston of interior design fame in Lake Mills you need to be prepared for bubbles to burst and stars to shoot overhead. She's a firecracker, a mover and a shaker with a real flair for the eclectic and the eccentric.
And nothing bears more testament to this than the United Methodist Church Cynthia and her husband purchased back in 1992 and converted into their bizarre residence.
Cynthia still lives in this mammoth 7600 square foot cabinet of curiosities and twice a year she and her fellow acolytes host an estate sale in the building's main floor.
Last Saturday I was a first time attendee and I couldn't help but be impressed. Cynthia and her girls dress for the occasion in fashions vintage and wild. It's easy to identify whom to ask for help when you're looking for fiesta rimmed glassware or ceramic mermaid kitchen clocks
I was number eight in the line that had formed outside the front door waiting to get in at nine in the morning. By the time they opened the doors the line had grown going down the entire front of the building. Once inside people continued to flood through those doors like a surging ocean wave, many looking for a bargain and others just there to gawk.
The lookers didn't have just the merchandise to gawk at, there's the building's interior itself.  Apparently when the Weston's purchased the church for a mere $90,000 it needed extensive renovation and they apparently were up to the task.
Many of the stained glass windows had been blown out making the interior a bird sanctuary. Holes in the roof leaked and mold had built up on every level of the forlorn structure.
The Weston's ending up putting hundreds of thousands of dollars and sweat into their vision and renovation including new stained glass, a ceiling painted with stars and a real Dale Chihuly chandelier dangling like burst of celestial sun from up above.
Vignettes were set up throughout the space and categorized according to theme.
There was a women's fashion section hung with vintage and ethnic frocks along with an amazing collection of haberdashery
A changing room was discreetly hidden behind a beautiful folding screen where women had formed a line their arms laden with beaded dresses, vintage diaphanous spring smocks and silk kimonos.
A men's section was around the corner
filled with butch items like a screaming bear's head
or a set of beautiful vintage leather suitcases stacked next to forest green leather smoking chair. I managed to find a collarless pink and grey stripped shirt by Arrow for $16, a bargain in my world.
The entry carried out the Easter theme even though Easter for this year was history
Up on the altar and off to the left was a section devoted to weddings and the bride. Vintage gowns were affixed to mannequins
and then there was this thematic lamp that like the perfect bride needed to have her photo snapped as curtsied in her bridal finery
Across from the brides was its appropriate counterpart: a place for hunters to stock up on tchotchkes to stock the cabin
and reading material for when the deer aren't running and the fish aren't biting
Victoriana was reflected all over the selling floor but none better than in this tableau with an intricate mirror, kerosene lamp and embroidered piano scarf
There would be no more appropriate vignette than one suggesting the mad science to be found in Dr. Caligari's Cabinet. The shark's teeth were grabbed right out of in front of me as I stared at them in disbelief.
Stuffed lizards and gapping alligator skulls are not exactly my idea of decorating but I couldn't help but be intrigued by this collection of morbidity.
If you were more interested in flushing out your office than your home there was a section for you as long as you weren't into current technology
Pottery is always a must for any estate sale and this sale was no exception. Ceramics were sprinkled throughout the room. Majolica and  painted cookie jars monopolized this painted cabinet
while little yellow planters of chicks and ducks flocked together on a vintage wooden table.
My favorite was this pair of adorably happy polar bears sitting on a glass iceberg.
Babies had their little niche with vintage bathing tubs, books and lamps. How irresistible is this Kewpie doll sitting in a bath of milkweed floss with her monkey and rubber ducks.
Kids were not neglected. They had a section filled with toys like erector sets, stuffed toys, an abacus and one scary ventriloquist's dummy
A spring sale couldn't have been better supported than by this display of vintage umbrellas. It was positioned at the forefront of the former altar raising it above the rest of the displays making sure everyone got the point that this was a sale centered around season
No estate sale would be complete without a nod to tabletop and this estate sale was no different. Cynthia had set up an entire table of jadite on a perfectly pressed patio cloth
One can't avoid kitchen accessories at an estate sale and this sale had it in spades, antique coffeepots, beautiful baskets, artwork promoting tapioca and this wonderful terra cotta domestic goddess.
Wisconsin is a state filled with lakes and the boating community was not left out. Who wouldn't want to set this sailboat floating down  a North Woods stream
Sculptures were items hidden like jewels making unexpected appearances on shelves, or cluttered tables and behind swinging cupboard doors.
My big purchase was a marble head by an Italian sculptor that now sits in the bookcase of our snug.
It's hard to avoid the trend of midcentury and the girls at this sale obliged
So if in the future you should find yourself near Lake Mills you really shouldn't miss this sale. The next one is scheduled for November. So get out your wallet or checkbook, belly-up to the desk and have Holly write you up because you can't possibly leave without something you truly don't need but you still can't live without.
Thy Kingdom Come, 2009
David LaChapelle, photographer
Represented by Staley-Wise Gallery


  1. Love this sale, the displays alone are worth going for. Sorry
    I had to miss this one but your coverage was perfect, didn't miss a thing.

  2. Of course you guys would know Jane Miller. I need to get the Nov. sale on my calendar. Can't decide if the gallery photo or your post is my fave.