A funeral home that for decades served as a final farewell for Somerville families will now have its own goodbye with a behemoth auction. Crown Auctions of Medford will be conducting the sale at 374 Main Street in Somerville on August 7.
The massive house was the original location of Fisher College from the 1920s until the 1950s when Frank and Lillian Cataldo purchased the property. Lillian Cataldo was one of the first female funeral directors in Massachusetts. The Cataldo’s purchased the property to relocate their funeral home business from the North End. The family occupied the upper two levels of the home and operated the business out of the first floor and the basement. Three generations operated the business for six decades.
The house is a treasure trove of antiques and vintage items, said an auctioneer. “When we first arrived at the house, our original intention was to remove everything and bring it back to our auction facility, but when we saw how much stuff was there and how large the space was, we decided to hold the auction on site,” said Arthur Crisafulli, Crown Auctions senior auctioneer.
From highly carved federal couches to mid century modern clocks, to dozens of crystal chandeliers and fine porcelains, the house is like a time capsule of the 20th century. The contents of an additional house on the property, which was also occupied by the Cataldo family, will be auctioned off as well. The items from that house including the furniture, clothing, ephemera and more, will most likely be moved into the main house for the auction. Other items of interest include the casket stands, statuary, kneelers, flower holders and the signage from the funeral home.
The funeral home which has been vacant for the past five years presented certain challenges. “We were confronted by a number of technical issues such as no water in the building and computer networking but we are working through the issues and auction goers can expect a smooth and comfortable event,” said Klia Ververidis, Crown Auctions Managing Partner.
The main auction will be held in the main chapel of the home which with the removal of the wall dividers turns into a 3,000 square foot space. Some rooms will be auctioned off as entire rooms with contents to the highest bidder. Everything on the property will be sold at the auction. “Our goal is to help the Cataldo family clear everything out so they can begin redevelopment. The main focus of our business is to help overwhelmed families clear out estates so they can move on with their plans,” said Klia. The Cataldo family intends to redevelop the property themselves to keep it from falling victim to the wrecking ball.