MERRILLVILLE | One of the region's oldest homes sold at auction Saturday to an anonymous bidder for $128,000.
The two-story, red brick home topped with a cupola was built in 1877, when the road that passes in front of it was still the Old Sauk Trail, which later became part of the famous Old Lincoln Highway and is now 73rd Avenue.
Several hundred people roamed the nearly 6-acre grounds of the home Saturday while Kraft Auction Services sold the contents and the home itself to the highest bidders.
Auctioneer Jonathan Kraft presided over a competition between two anonymous bidders for the house, each relaying offers via telephone.
The home's new owner, should the sale go through as expected, is a Munster man who plans to live in the house, said Realtor Ed Pawlus, of McColly Real Estate, which handled the real estate end of the sale.
The Italianate-style house named to the National Register of Historic Places was built as a retirement home for a Chicago lumber dealer and includes a milk house and granary on the grounds.
Paul Yurkas bought the house in 1979 and filled it with his beloved collections of vintage advertising signs, antique clocks, old toys and numerous other items. Yurkas died earlier this year.
Items from his collections were snapped up Saturday, including a vintage Lincoln-brand slot machine that brought $1,900 and a pair of multicolored vases that sold for $1,050.
Michael Yurkas, of Los Angeles, outbid another buyer for a faded red, 36-inch round Coca-Cola sign. Yurkas, who is Paul's nephew, said the sign hung on a wall of his uncle's home and has sentimental value for him.
Old signs and containers saying Dad's Root Beer, Pepsi, 7-Up or other soda names sold for $50 or more each. Paul Todos, of Hobart, said the signs he bought will hang at his home, "just to look at."
Linda Arnold, of Lowell, left the auction with a vintage croquette set, a well-used snow sled and an old vending machine lettered with the words "gags and goodies."
Romerica Mitchell, of Merrillville, brought his son and granddaughter to the auction to get a feel for the area's past.
"It's a slice of history," Mitchell said.