Seller Story: Sandusky, OH


“In 1938 my grandparents, John Richard and Verna Waldock Dorn, built the house on Wayne Street. They were both from the area, my great-grandfather, John G. Dorn, was the original owner of the Dorn Winery. The mahogany shaving stand in the sale was his, as were the two Albert Berry bronze desk sets: one for his office at the winery and one for home.

My grandmother was meticulous, meticulous. She wouldn’t let us go beyond the kitchen and she wouldn’t even let us step on that Kerman rug. But they did love to entertain. The first floor of the house — they called it the ballroom — was hardwood, and it was there that they would host lively dances. The house is also the place where my mother C.J., who grew up there, married my father, Paul Pheiffer.

Both sets of my grandparents were travelers, especially the Waldocks; they would go to Mexico and Europe. They started collecting the Vreeland art through their travels, as well as the fans and Mexican pottery. The dolls in the sale are from my great-grandmother.

My grandparents lived there until 1966 when my family, the Pheiffers moved in: my parents, sisters Jane and Paula, and brother John. The house was still stacked with our grandparents’ things, but our parents didn’t treat it like a museum, and it was a fun place to grow up. There are lots of hidden places and secret nooks, we loved that Mexican furniture; I loved my grandfather’s rolltop desk. In 1989, my brother John moved in, and he was a historical guy, so he didn’t change much. Now, after three generations, we’re finally putting the house on the market.”- Bitsy Pheiffer

Seller Story: Sandusky, OH
Seller Story: Sandusky, OH
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Seller Story: Sandusky, OH

You mentioned that all of your parents and grandparents were collectors. What did they collect?

Bitsy: My grandfather collected stamps, and my great-grandfather, John Dorn, was a stamp dealer. And my mother saved every possible newspaper article.

Did you inherit your family’s love of collecting?

Jane: I’m the collector, and I love antiques! My husband and I are restoring a home from 1919, so many pieces from this house made sense for it.

B: I, on the other hand, make sure I have a very specific purpose for everything I keep.

Is there a piece that you think is really special?

B: The mahogany corner cupboard, which had a replica commissioned to match. I just think that’s really cool.

J: It’s hard to tell which is the original and which is the reproduction. And even the reproduction is 80 years old. The original for sale is probably as old as the house.

After so many years in your family, it must be bittersweet to put the house on the market.

B: It is – the other day we found a picture of the six of us that we’d never seen before, so the process has had fun moments. But you know what? The house needs to have new people in it.

J: It should be full of family and children, joy and love.

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