Prominent home on River Crest Country Club opens for sale of ‘museum-quality’ antiques
UPDATE 10-25-2022: While the estate sale has ended, the home is now officially on the market. Check out the listing here.
A century-old house across from the first hole of Fort Worth's River Crest Country Club is opening to the public, and behind the doors is a treasure trove of rare antiques that need new homes.
The stately white two-story at the corner of Crestline Road and Tremont Avenue was the longtime home of Michael and Drinda Fiske and their two sons, Damon and Shannon — a well-known, well-loved family in the neighborhood. Michael, an engineer and entrepreneur, died in 2014; Drinda passed away in November 2021.
Drinda was an avid and experienced collector whose vast assemblage of heirlooms will be shoppable at an estate sale conducted by Urban Potluck Sales, September 1-3.
Her collection fills every nook and cranny of every room in the house, downstairs and up — from vintage tins and cookbooks in the kitchen to antique toys in the children’s bedrooms — and it’s “better than any antique store you will visit,” says Urban Potluck Sales owner Tracy Keltner.
“This house, from start to present, has been nothing short of jaw dropping. The first day I walked in I knew that many of the items were museum quality,” Keltner says. “Most estate sale companies will encounter a house with specific antiques and vintage collections around once or twice a year. Rarely, if ever, do we encounter collections of this magnitude, and of this quality. Everything we touch winds up being something significant.”
Among the fun and significant discoveries:
- A sterling silver Tiffany & Company small desk calendar, black with tarnish, tucked in with some antique wooden spools. “When I felt it, I knew it was something special — it just took some polishing to be able to read the mark, but was a true treasure,” Keltner says.
- A Buck Rogers Atomic toy pistol
- A Clark's Spool Cotton cabinet and table from a general store with a "secret" code to open the cash drawer with a series of hidden brass buttons
- Spun cotton Victorian Christmas ornaments
- A Bakelite greyhound-shaped carved pasta cutter
- "Feather" trees (Christmas trees that are considered to be some of the first artificial Christmas trees)
- Two tubs full of antique/vintage Halloween items. “Drinda collected papier mache pumpkins and cats. These items have paper faces that are quite rare, most in part because the pumpkins were used as luminarias and probably caught fire,” Keltner says.
- A small personal diary from a young girl that dated to 1878. “The book was only a tad larger than a business card and had been a Christmas gift as indicated from her entry in the front of the diary," Keltner says. "She had made an entry every day without fail. In the back of the small book was a dog-eared miniature book that she had saved and had noted that the miniature book had been a gift from a Mrs. Harper, who had nicknamed her Adeline. I just found it so intriguing that the diary had survived and that the tiny book had been so special that she had saved it to her adulthood.”
- A large collection of antique children's shoes. “I found it humbling that most of the antique children's shoes had signs of wear that indicated that the shoes had been worn well past the size of the foot, i.e., the shoes were worn way longer than the foot had grown," Keltner says. "This was a severe reminder that shoes were passed down from kid to kid and that just because your child's foot was in need of a larger size did not mean they got new shoes — the parents had to wait for the money to afford the purchase.”
One of the largest categories are vintage Christmas collectibles — enough to fill several rooms of the second story. Bins and shelves are filled with ornaments, beads, nativity sets from around the world, books, and even post-World War II-era decorations with tags that say, “Made in occupied Japan.”
“Of particular note is her passion for all things from the Victorian era, most specifically Victorian Christmas,” Keltner says. “What makes Victorian Christmas items so charming is that they were not mass produced and were mostly hand made. Over time these pieces, if not cared for properly, will be torn or broken due to their fragile nature. To have a collection this large, and in divine condition, is spectacular. Many of the blown glass ornaments have extensions that are a thin as a toothpick, and under the care of Mrs. Fiske they have been lovingly stored and have survived intact, unbroken.”
Drinda Fiske had a special love of holidays and made the home come alive at Christmas, both for visitors and passersby, remembers her daughter-in-law.
“I have so many wonderful memories of going to their house at the holidays and being in awe of her Christmas tree that was decorated with Steiff teddy bears," says Darlene Fiske, who is married to Michael and Drinda’s son Shannon. "She would arrange them doing certain activities in the tree. Two bears would be having a cup of tea at a table, another swinging in a hammock. There were these vignettes all around the tree; it must have taken her weeks to set it up. The Christmas tree was inside but she put it near the window that faces Crestline so everybody could see it when they drove by.”
And yes, the teddy bears are up for sale.
Home with history
Shopping the sale also gives Fort Worthians a rare opportunity to peek inside the storied home. While the Fiskes were very private people, their daughter-in-law says, the home was the subject of several newspaper and magazine design articles, as well as neighborhood intrigue.
According to a 1975 Fort Worth Star-Telegram feature, the home was built in 1921 by a German couple. (At the time, River Crest Country Club was just 10 years old.) The architecture is Norman, and restoration experts believed it may have been a copy of a house the owners had originally built in Germany.
The Fiskes spent more than a year in the 1970s rebuilding and restoring the house before they moved in and filled it with Drinda’s precious antiques. The newspaper article, headlined "House that found love a traffic stopper," said drivers would regularly slow their cars to glimpse the Fiskes' transformation of the once-dilapidated house.
"After the house was completed, she started collecting antiques," Darlene Fiske says, recalling family trips to Canton, New Orleans, and other antiquing hot spots. “If something caught her eye and it was unusual, she would buy it. She just had this sense for things that had a story to tell.”
The home is not yet on the market but will be seeking new owners to love it as much as the Fiskes did, the family says.
“We’re taking inquiries for the home purchase right now, but are not in a rush and will wait for just the right person,” Darlene Fiske says. “We’re hoping that someone will want to keep the home intact and give it some TLC and a refresh.”
Keltner says working on the estate sale “has been something like opening a time capsule."
"Mrs. Fiske had a keen eye and did not specialize in any particular item to collect,” she says. “What is clear though, is that her love of antiques was all consuming. The magnitude and quality of her collection indicates a lifetime of hunting.”
The Fiske home is at 4259 Crestline Rd. The public sale will take place 8:30 am-5 pm September 1-3. For more information on the collection and special shopping opportunities, visit the website.