An estate sale of the belongings of a well-known Columbus businesswoman is providing local residents a chance to get a glimpse of, or even own, some intriguing decor that once graced her elegant Washington Street home.

Hundreds of items from the estate of the late Edna Howe, who had run Bartholomew County Beverage, will be sold at auction Saturday at the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds, in a sale organized by Estate and Downsizing Specialists LLC of Bloomington.

The estimated 500 lots — which include bronze sculptures of all sizes, marble pedestals, ornate carved furniture and indoor and outdoor planting containers of all shapes and sizes — will be sold in two auction rings, with 65 to 90 items being sold per hour, said Brian Sample, owner of Estate and Downsizing Specialists.

The items filled a unique four-bedroom brick estate at 2980 Washington St., which is being purchased by local entrepreneur Tom R. Wetherald, who is planning to close on the Howe home in November.

Story continues below gallery

The residence, which sits on 7 acres of wooded land, has a panoramic view extending back to the Flat Rock River. It has a private nature preserve area near the river, according to Michael J. Weisner, Howe’s son, who is working with attorneys and the estate specialists to sell the property and its contents.

Throughout this week, the home’s contents were being boxed, packed and transported to the fairgrounds, where they will be auctioned in a process that is expected to last until mid-afternoon, Sample said.

The one-of-a-kind items, displayed indoors throughout the home, and outdoors in the home’s various garden areas surrounding the house, were collected over a lifetime from antique dealers and sales, Weisner said of the artifacts.

An ornate sculpture of a woman at the entrance to the home came from New Orleans — and there are marble pedestals that were salvaged from the Claypool Hotel in Indianapolis, Weisner said.

Howe died July 19 at age 95 in Yuma, Arizona, where she lived with her son.

Weisner said the two would split their time between Arizona and Columbus, wintering in Yuma but spending time in Columbus, too.

“She loved gardens,” Weisner said of his mother. “She had more urns than anyone in town. We would find interesting things at estate sales or antique stores and have it shipped back to Indiana.”

As Estate and Downsizing Specialists employees packed all the items this week, Sample could only guess how the family got such large, ornate and heavy items into place around the home.

“I know they had people working on the grounds and I assume they helped,” he said.

Although employees initially worried they would not be able to move some of the large sculptures safely, a moving company that was brought in assured workers that the job could be done and all items will be at the fairgrounds by Saturday.

Among the items to be auctioned are an antique Columbus street lamp post, which was repurposed into an ornate lacquer black outdoor plant hanger.

There are multiple Frederic Remington bronze statues of Western lore, and a variety of lamps made of crystal, cut glass, stained glass and more. Auction bidders also will have a chance to buy a bronze elephant and mystical bronze creatures that resemble dogs, but have menacing fangs and spikes.

Numerous pieces of mahogany hand-carved furniture are in the sale, including huge elaborate headboards and storage cabinets.

A whimsical giraffe towers above some of the smaller sculptures — which include cherubs and water fixtures, where running water poured from jars in their hands in the garden.

Jewelry also is part of the estate sale, including an ornate gold necklace that Weisner said he purchased in Mexico for his mother, and two 9-carat diamond rings, which are rare finds, Sample said.

“There is a variety of gold jewelry, a really nice Rolex watch. It’s all top-shelf material,” Sample said.

Sample doesn’t have an estimate for what the items could sell for.

The fairgrounds was chosen because of Howe’s connection to the Columbus community and the interest that would be generated by her unique collection, he said.

Howe’s family continues to operate Bartholomew County Beverage, which was founded at the end of Prohibition by Howe’s late husband, Clarence Howe, with business partner Francis Overstreet in 1933. Edna Howe took over the operation of the family run company in 1984 after her husband’s death.

According to Bartholomew County real estate records, Edna Howe purchased the Washington Street home in 2006 from Frederick Stadler, who had owned Stadler Packing Co., the forerunner of Mariah Foods.

Family members recall that there had been tours of the home at times when Edna Howe was alive, and many of the items that will be remembered from then will be in the auction ring Saturday.

“We’re just offering this to the people of Columbus to enjoy,” Weisner said.

For many local residents, it may be a chance to pick up an item that has sentimental value that reminds them of the Columbus of yesteryear.

A website that lists all the items up for auction had about 7,000 views earlier this week, but as word spread about the auction, hundreds of page views were piling on Wednesday, Sample said.

He’s expecting several hundred people at the auction and hopes they will each find something to treasure among Howe’s ornate and unique collection of household items.

“I’m happy the people of Columbus will have the opportunity to buy some of these beautiful things,” Weisner said.

If you go

What: Estate auction of Edna Howe’s Washington Street home in Columbus

When: Preview of auction items with viewing at the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds from 1 to 4 p.m. today. Auction will be at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, with doors opening at 8 a.m. at the fairgrounds.

Where: Bartholomew County Fairgrounds, at County Roads 750W and 200S.

Organized by: Estate and Downsizing Specialists LLC, Bloomington

For more information

For more information about the sale, visit or

Author photo
Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at or (812) 379-5631.