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updated: 10/14/2011 4:16 PM

Nostalgia for sale at former Wheaton school

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  • Karen Felker, left, grabbed two music stands for her daughters Trista and Alicia while Tiffany Widelski, takes out a kindergarten desk and chair for her son Zach.

       Karen Felker, left, grabbed two music stands for her daughters Trista and Alicia while Tiffany Widelski, takes out a kindergarten desk and chair for her son Zach.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • Meg Houser tries out a rocking chair she found for $5. After conferring with her sister Coby Houser, left, and mother Carol Houser, she decided it was a deal too good to pass up.

       Meg Houser tries out a rocking chair she found for $5. After conferring with her sister Coby Houser, left, and mother Carol Houser, she decided it was a deal too good to pass up.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • After plugging it in to make sure it works, Cindy Spivey loads an overhead projector into her car.

       After plugging it in to make sure it works, Cindy Spivey loads an overhead projector into her car.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

 
 

When sisters Coby and Meg Houser set their eyes on the rocking chair, they knew they wanted it. They flagged down the nearest attendant and asked the price.

The news was good: Just $5.

They'll take it!

The scene did not play out at a flea market or thrift store. Instead, it was part of the surplus sale at the former Hubble Middle School on Friday.

Meg and Coby attended, hoping to find items for their new place in Bensenville.

"It's a unique opportunity that does not come often," said Meg, 23. "We didn't really expect to pick up a rocking chair."

Rocking chairs, televisions, overhead projectors and even washers and dryers, along with the predictable abundance of student desks, lined the halls and rooms of the school as residents browsed. The sale is the next step in Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 getting out from under the old building, which the school district contracted this summer to sell to a developer.

The property sale continues from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the school on the northwest corner of Roosevelt and Naperville roads.

Superintendent Brian Harris said he was pleased with the turnout, with a steady stream of residents and church groups perusing the merchandise.

"It's exactly what we expected," he said. "It's nice of the community to come here and help us get rid of this stuff."

But the community was getting something out of it, too.

Rich Schuda, treasurer for the Village Green Baptist Church in Glen Ellyn, helped load 20 chairs and a screen projector into a van. The new items will benefit the church's youth group.

"We saw the ad in the paper and decided to come out," he said. "It gives us some equipment to do the ministries."

A plan remains in place to build a Mariano's Fresh Market grocery store on the property and have it open in Spring 2013. But the developer, Bradford Equities LLC, recently asked for more time to get the proper permits from the city before the contract and sale becomes final.

The building has had a storied history in Wheaton. It opened in 1925 as Wheaton Community High School and counts former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Samuel Skinner, comedian Jim Belushi and Watergate journalist Bob Woodward among its alumni.

But on Friday, it was all about getting rid of old artifacts, such as an 8-track player/turntable combination and countless televisions for $10.

"It's sad that all the memories this place held will be gone with the demolition," said Monica Gibbons, an assistant in the district's administrative office who has worked with the district 26 years. "But there are new memories to be made (at the new Hubble) and people will hold those old memories with them."

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