Every auction gets it fair share of amateurs, but Cash Realty’s auction at the former Holy Angels Academy may have set a new record.
More than 500 people descended on the former Catholic girls school on Hertel Avenue on Saturday morning. Some were seasoned bidders looking to secure good prices on computers, exercise machines and kitchen equipment.
Many more were first-timers, enticed by an offering of antique wooden furniture, ornate Catholic statues and mysterious religious items, all steeped in the history and nostalgia of a 152-year-old Buffalo institution.
Chris Overkamp paid $250 for a church pew from the school’s chapel, which he’ll use as seating for his dining room table.
“When are you going to have the chance to get something like this?” he said. “We’ll be sitting at Thanksgiving dinner, and I’ll be able to say, ‘Hey, this came from Holy Angels.’ ”
Karen Fraas of Amherst paid $325 for a used iPad. She acknowledged that she could have bought a brand new model for just $100 more, but she said she wanted to support the school, having attended two other Catholic schools in the past that also closed.
“It’s something I can use, but at the same time I can take a piece of the school with me,” she said.
Tim Sick scored a wrought iron, Gothic chandelier for $20, which he’ll hang in his carriage house.
“It’s old and it’s cool,” Sick said.
Some veterans grumbled that the influx of newbies drove prices up higher than usual.
“Someone paid $6.50 for these folding chairs,” said Mike Mulvaugh, who owns a bounce house and party rental business. “I can get them for $8 new.”
Earlier this month, Holy Angels held a special auction of memorabilia for alumni of the school, but that didn’t stop many from returning Saturday.
Local theater maven Mary Kate O’Connell, who graduated from the academy in 1973, came, hoping to buy library seating for her theater company.
“I’ll put a little plaque honoring the legacy of Holy Angels,” said O’Connell, whose mother, sister, aunt and nieces all attended the school.
June Lehman, also from the class of 1973, wasn’t sure what she would buy, but she knew she wouldn’t leave without “something for a memory.”
Still others came simply to walk the school grounds one last time and to watch as it was emptied out, piece by piece.
“Just to be able to say, ‘This is where I had social studies with Sister Margaret,’ ” said Meg Rittling Richardson, class of 1982.
Ramona SantaMaria attended the auction hours before her classmates from 1993 would celebrate their 20th reunion at Remington Tavern on Saturday night. She bought a seven-foot Holy Angels banner at the alumni auction that she planned to hang at the reunion.
“I’m here because I need some closure,” she said. “To see things that mean so much to you being sold off is very sobering.”