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One Man’s Trash, Another’s Treasure

It was a treasure-filled day for the community when hundreds ventured out to Santa Clara’s Harris Lass House for the museum’s annual rummage sale on Sept. 9.

Twenty museum members were given the opportunity to clean their garage and sell items, many antiques, to hundreds of eager buyers for profit.

Rummage Sale chair Sue Harper said the event is a perk given to museum members, as each member kept the entirety of any sales made.


Museum treasurer, Sue Kozdon, a former chair of the event and vendor on Saturday, said the event was a great way to get residents familiar with the museum.

“I think the sales are always good because we get a wide variety of stuff—everything from the $25 little plastic thing up to vintage china or clothing,” she said. “It’s always a good mix and we’re always wanting to do things to bring people into the museum because a lot of people in Santa Clara have no idea we exist.”

Longtime Harris Lass House member Marilyn Petersen said she has been participating for the past 10 years, with many of the items sold being things she picks up at the Santa Clara’s annual clean up.

“I pick up a lot of stuff at the cleanup. My Victorian house is popular for having the most clean up pieces in it on the house tour,” she said, before adding that she will not be part of this year’s home tour.

When Petersen finds items of interest she immediately picks them up and works on restoring everything from discarded cigar boxes to rocking chairs. “I wash it, sand it, paint it, cover it with cloth and refinish,” she said. “I’ve been doing it for years.”

One of Petersen’s items was a pair of wooden children’s toy highchairs, each for only $22. One was of particular interest to buyer Betty Barnhill.

“Our granddaughter will be 2 on September 11 and it’s the perfect size,” she said. “She loves her babies and it’s going to go to grandma’s house.”

Barnhill, a San Jose resident who found out about the event at the Santa Clara Farmer’s Market, had already purchased two items prior to the highchair, said she was a fan of antiques and that the item would be a great addition to her granddaughter’s toy collection. “It’s vintage, it’s old and it’s well-made, originally. She will love it.”

In addition to Petersen’s restored wood items, she was also selling a 20-piece partial set of china for $22. At the time of the event, each of the pieces was individually listed on Ebay by other vendors for between $9 and $22. The museum itself even had a table to sell donated items with all profits going directly to the Harris Lass House.

On Friday, Sept. 15, the Harris Lass House Museum is hosting its Movie Night in the Barn where the museum will show The Longest Winter, a 26-minute documentary on the Donner Party. The first showing at 1889 Market St. is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. with subsequent showings scheduled for 7, 7:30 and 8 p.m. Popcorn and cider will be served at the free event. Visit or call (408) 253-0682 to RSVP.


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