Like many people of retirement age, Joan and Scott Parry of Bear Brook Road in West Windsor face the daunting challenge of downsizing their family homestead.
The Parrys, who have just moved to Village Grande, have a challenge that is greater than most of their peers. Their 26-room home is chock full of thousands of antiques and collectibles, including the mannequins, above, acquired during many years of travel throughout the United States and abroad.
Active in the Historical Society of West Windsor, the family opened up their home for holiday tours for more than 20 years. The tour became a tradition for many to see three floors of rooms decorated for the holiday season with a Victorian theme. Every room had its own holiday decorations and Santa Claus greeted everyone in his workshop. The funds raised benefited the organization’s restoration projects.
Now that it’s time to downsize, the Parrys are holding no ordinary garage sale. Their belongings will be auctioned off at the house on Saturday, May 26, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Items can be previewed this Friday, May 25, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Joan and Scott Parry collected antiques all of their lives, and when they moved from New York City in 1973 to West Windsor, they found a perfect place to store and showcase their collections. They built their dream house on 14 acres of land renamed Tamarack Farms on Bear Brook Road. Construction of their new home, “the Castle,” designed as a European manor house based on numerous trips abroad, began in 1976.
The 26-room house was set up year-round like a museum featuring antiques and collectibles in every room. The foyer entrance features a cherub in a tiled foundation. A grand piano and an organ were in the Great Hall.
The Music Room contained three keyboard instruments including an 1825 pianoforte, a harpsichord, and a spinet. One of Scott Parry’s most prized possessions is a set of bells mounted on a carillon that were once owned by P.T. Barnum. He also owns a set of handbells that came from the London foundry that cast the Liberty Bell.
Scott’s collections of pharmaceutical, medical, and chemical equipment were in the family room. The house and grounds were also used for a bridal show, workshops, a wedding, an opera festival, and even a bicycle rally.
Their daughter, Kiki, was raised in the house, and her room included a 20-room dollhouse and antique dolls. She graduated from West Windsor-Plainsboro High School in 1988 and from Boston University in 1992. She and her husband, Mike Mosley, also a 1988 graduate, are raising their children nearby — on Meadow Road.
Scott Parry, the son of an electrical engineer, was raised in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he acquired an interest in handbells in 1947 when his church asked him to organize a handbell choir. In 1950, when Parry entered Princeton University as a freshman, he first inquired about playing handbells but was steered toward the carillon at the Princeton Graduate School, one of only about 200 in the United States. His repertoire included works of Bach, Handel, Mozart, Bizet, Beethoven, and Schubert. (When he returned to New Jersey, he played on the carillon in Princeton every Sunday as well as in the summer series.)
Parry received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Princeton in 1954, and then a master’s in public relations from Boston University, and a doctorate in education from New York University. He worked for the Group Attitudes division of Hill and Knowlton until 1961 when he left to form his own company. Training House specialized in management development, organizational effectiveness, and human resources training, and often held sessions at the Castle. He retired in 2000.
Raised on Long Island, New York, Joan graduated from New York University and worked at Hill and Knowlton for many years. Very active in the Historical Society, she was instrumental in renovating and decorating the Schenck House and is serving as the publicity coordinator.
At the Castle on Bear Brook Road, there were collections of paperweights, copper cooking ware, tools, farm implements, toys, games, military hats, and even a printing press. The tower guest room has five windows and there is a greenhouse porch between the kitchen and the annex, a multi-purpose meeting hall. The second floor library is loaded with books.
“My grandmother died with the world’s largest doll collection and my grandfather collected canes,” said Scott in 2000. “I believe that my urge to collect may be genetic.” The Parrys inherited the collections.
Trains are another passion and Scott had a large room set up with at least 15 train sets. He received his first set of Lionel trains from his father when he was seven or eight. The train room was always popular at the couple’s annual holiday tour.
Now that the Parrys have moved to Village Grande and from 26 rooms to 6, Empire Auction is organizing the on-site auction at the Castle. “There is a lot of good stuff,” says Achille Salmena, the organizer of the auction. “Items of great value will be sold individually.”
Items for sale include antiques, books, and collectibles including copper, woodenware, pottery, trains, toys, signs, and bottles. Also vintage clothing, linens, and quilts. Furniture includes a baby grand piano, desk, tables, and a barber chair. All items will be sold as is.
Once the collections are cleared out, the Castle itself will be ready for sale. The ornate house and its six acres — all in need of work — will be officially on the market the end of the month. Asking price: $650,000. Contact Linda November for details (www.lindanovember.com).
The Parrys are upbeat about their move. “The new house backs onto open space to give us less of that hemmed in feeling,” she says. “The clubhouse looks lovely and full of things to do. Maybe by the end of the year I will be able to get involved.”
The Parrys already know several people in Village Grande and they all recommended it highly. “It’s quite a challenge to decide what to take,” says Joan. “It is quite a necessary life style change, but one we feel will be for the better.”
On Site Auction Preview, A-A Empire Auction, The Castle at Tamarack Farms, 96 Bear Brook Road, West Windsor. Friday, May 25, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Preview items for sale on Saturday, May 26, at 9 a.m. 609-426-0820.
On Site Auction, A-A Empire Auction, The Castle at Tamarack Farms, 96 Bear Brook Road, West Windsor. Saturday, May 26, 9 a.m. Bring a chair. Parking off street. No sales tax. All items sold as is. Credit cards with discounts for cash, Euros, English pounds, and known checks. 609-426-0820.