Magnificent at every turn

Published 8:39 pm Monday, August 6, 2012

As one of the finest houses in Suffolk, the Truitt house at 204 Bank St. has long been the envy and the object of curiosity for many who passed by.

Some have lived nearby their entire lives and never been inside. Some in the older generation might vaguely recall a holiday party or two at the mansion, which hits the auction block later this month. Some may have knocked on the door in recent years to beg for a glimpse.

But my visit last week to do a story on the upcoming auction is definitely something I’ll never forget.

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The home and property are being sold after the owner died and her husband parceled out the estate. The children decided to put it up for auction.

Auctioneer Barry Cole, whose task it is to divvy up the home and its contents at lightning speed, does a great job imagining what life was like in the home. He hums to himself as he demonstrates how a nanny might have rocked a baby in a cradle that now holds a doll dressed in a christening gown. He shows how the servants would have cooked dinner in the kitchen, brought it into the pantry to plate and then carried it to the formal dining room. He shows how musicians who arrived at the home to entertain would come in the back way and navigate up a narrow staircase into a gallery where they could entertain from out of sight.

The magnificence of the home gets more and more breathtaking at every turn, with every step. Every room you enter and every door you open provides a new window into how a wealthy family lived during the last century.

Cole can provide a testament to that. He had been working in the home for a week, fixing it up ahead of the open house later this month, when he finally decided to open the door to what he thought was a linen closet.

He told me he jumped back upon finding another stairway on the other side of the door, which led to servants’ quarters and a back staircase to the kitchen.

It’s the quest for just that kind of surprise that might lead people to the open house, set for Aug. 24. It opens to the public at 6 p.m.

Cole says people should come even if they’re not planning to bid on anything, if only because the home is like a museum. I would agree. I expect to see lots of folks at the open house in three weeks.