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Going, Going ... History

JACKSONVILLE — A part of the town's history goes on the auction block next month when the 129-year-old Chris Keegan house and everything inside are offered to the highest bidders.

"We have two things going on," said Steve Wall, owner and auctioneer of Wall Auctioneers in Jacksonville. "We have a sale of the personal property and antiques inside the house on July 11, and then we'll sell the house itself on July 16."

He said the house will have a reserve minimum bid of $225,000, while the antiques and personal items will have no established minimums.

The antiques and historical items are part of the Jim and Judy Scheffel estate and were collected for more than 50 years before Judy's death in August 2008 and Jim's passing in January.

The Scheffels took over their parents' Jacksonville antique store in 1966, one year after buying the Keegan house from local preservationist Robby Collins.

"I grew up in that house," said the Scheffels' daughter, Linda Graham, "but when we moved in, it was a cultural shock that a 10-year-old wasn't prepared for. Jacksonville, back then, was the west side of the tracks — definitely not as upscale as it is now."

In 1986, the Scheffels converted their antique store into a toy store that has been a California Street fixture ever since. Linda Graham and her husband, Bill, bought the store in 1992 so her parents could retire.

Though the house bears Christopher Keegan's name, he didn't build it and no one is quite sure who did.

Keegan was 16 when the family arrived in Jacksonville in 1882 from Clackamas County. His father, Owen, was bailiff and jailer at the county courthouse for 20 years, while Chris, an employee of marble cutter J.C. Whipp, is said to have carved many of the tombstone bases found in the Jacksonville Cemetery.

Keegan died in 1948 and shares the family's cemetery plot.

Graham said when her parents bought the house, "it was in rough shape — really just a shell. When we pulled the oilcloth off the walls you could see right through the cracks. It was scary. I thought my parents had lost their minds."

She said the Scheffels gutted the interior, except for the upstairs, and built a house within a house, but her father always insisted the outside should look historic.

"It's still the original battan wood," Graham said. "About the only thing he changed were the window frames and doors."

She said when her parents bought the house it was "virtually worthless, but now it's very comfortable with hardwood floors and a big country kitchen with a wood-burning fireplace in it."

Auctioneer Wall said avid collectors of American primitive antiques of all kinds will be interested, and he made special note of two original Peter Britt photograph prints included in the offerings.

"There are 243 items shown online right now that people can look at," he said. "Folks can pre-bid up until the day of the July 11 auction, and then, on that day, we will allow online live bidding in addition to the live auction at the house."

For those without Internet access who want to see what will be auctioned, Wall said there will be a preview viewing from 2 to 5 p.m. July 10 and 8 to 9 a.m. July 11.

"They can take a look and touch," he said, "and then about an hour before the sale they can also come and take a look."

For Graham, seeing people catalog her parents' personal items for sale has been difficult.

"I was down there the other day and when I saw them I started to choke up," she said. "It's been emotional and hard, but I've learned to let go. You don't need the things to keep the memory alive."

Asked whether she would be at the auction, she paused, and said, "I think I'm going to stay away. That would probably be just too much to take."

Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at newsmiller@yahoo.com.

Going, Going ... History