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Grandview Terrace empties, piece by piece, at auction
Kevin E. Schmidt/QUAD-CITY TIMES Jana Guinn, left, of Stenzel Auctions watches for bidders on collectible Christmas plates in the dining room of the former Royal Neighbors national retirement home in Davenport.

The winding lane that takes visitors uphill to the stately old Grandview Terrace was clogged with vehicles and people Friday morning, long before auctioneers ever stepped to their microphones.

The rainy, cold weather didn’t seem to stop anyone from getting one last look at Royal Neighbors of America’s defunct national retirement home on Rockingham Road in Davenport.

The 75-year-old facility has sat vacant since 2004, when Royal Neighbors closed it. On Friday, hundreds of bidders wandered through the rooms and grounds, preparing to bid on the site’s contents — including a baby grand piano, artwork, chairs, beds and other home furnishings.

“It’s big because of the amount of stuff, and because of what it is,” said Al Stenzel of Stenzel Auction Service in Geneseo and Osco, Ill. “There are a lot of memories here for a lot of people.”

The auction was expected to run all day Friday, after four weeks of preparing items for the sale. It was one of the biggest auctions Stenzel’s company has ever run, he said.

About 300 auction numbers had been assigned by the time bidding started at 10 a.m., and auction house employees were still handing them out. The first 100 numbers are permanently assigned, but most of those people were believed to be at the auction, a Stenzel staff member said.

Curiosity brought Sandra Charlan of Davenport and her friend, George Hayes of Erie, Ill., to the auction. Sipping coffee in the basement of the large building, Charlan said she was most interested in the site’s history.

“There are some things here from the 1920s, 1930s,” she said.

Royal Neighbors bought the sprawling acreage in 1930 and opened Grandview in 1931 as the company’s national retirement home, providing shelter for its elderly, indigent members.

For many decades, members were required to turn over their assets to live at Grandview, but were assured care without further cost for the rest of their lives. That changed in 1996, when Royal Neighbors instituted a pay-as-you-go rule.

The facility closed in 2004, when the company decided that providing senior housing was not part of its core mission, and that funds devoted to it could be better used in other areas. No one has lived at Grandview since then, company officials said.

The sale included a baby grand piano, beds, dressers, chairs, lamps and other furnishings, along with outdoor items like tools, washers and dryers and lawn tractors. Kitchen equipment will be sold at auction at 11 a.m. May 22.

Some people came Friday with specific items in mind. Robert and Dorothy Curtis of Donahue, Iowa, came to buy Grandview’s 14-passenger van, which their Davenport church will use. Pregnant with her first child, Katie Leihsing of Moline came to look for a dresser for the baby’s nursery.

Intricately stitched quilts hung in the hallway near rows of bedrooms, where Lois Peterson of Lynn Center, Ill., was admiring the quilters’ handiwork. A quilter herself, Peterson said it’s sad to see such fine work —and memories — get sold.

Peterson said she used to visit an Orion, Ill., couple who lived at Grandview.

“It’s sad for the whole thing,” she said. “This was, at one time, a beautiful place.”

The next step for Royal Neighbors is to sell the wooded property, which is located on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. The site — which includes outbuildings and an ornate outdoor fountain — is not yet on the market.

Kay Luna can be contacted at

(563) 383-2323 or kluna@qctimes.com.

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