Tucked behind a few pine trees on Blue Ridge Drive Northeast in Gainesville sits a brick, ranch-style home. Five small, white columns support the awning over the front porch. There are black shutters on either side of the windows and a carport protecting a 1992 Cadillac.
It’s the home where Frank and Lillie Mae Green, Gainesville business owners and philanthropists, modestly lived before they died in 2008 and 2018, respectively. That house is empty now, except for all of the items they left behind.
Giving their personal wealth and belongings away to make the community a better place seemed to always be the plan for the Greens. Now, even after death, they are pushing that plan along even further at an estate sale at the home off Riverside Drive planned for Sept. 6-8.
“They lived very humble,” said Teresa Syfan, co-owner of Birds of a Feather Estate Sales, which is heading up the Greens’ sale. “And they, I think, did it purposefully to help the community and to give back. It’s an incredible financial estate. And all the proceeds from the sale will be going to the estate which will be divided among charities around here.”
Walking through the home is like being transported back in time, with vintage items scattered throughout.
Wooden beams in the den lead the eye to the brick fireplace with Gainesville High School memorabilia sitting at its foot: an old letterman jacket, yearbooks, a pennant and elephant figurines.
In the kitchen, where Lillie Mae spent most of her time making pound cakes for Green’s Grocery she and her husband owned until 1995, are cookbooks, aprons, butter churns, glassware and other baking items.
There’s also an old R.M. Rose Co. whiskey jug with the original corncob cork. The company, founded in 1867, operated out of Atlanta until prohibition forced it to shut its doors. Birds of a Feather said something like it sells online for $400 to $500.
“It is a fantastic piece of history,” said Becca Yarck, co-owner of Birds of a Feather.
The family room has a beige, floral-printed couch with handwritten recipes scattered on one cushion. There is vintage china, and the room connects to the dining room, chairs and lamps.
“We toyed with doing a recipe book for Ms. Lillie Mae that we could make available after the sale,” said Carol Moore, co-owner of Birds of a Feather.
Throughout the rest of the first level of the home, rooms are filled with clothing, bedroom furniture, clocks, books, belt buckles, ties, vintage jewelry and pocket knives. Lillie Mae’s old Rich’s department store credit card is even up for sale. But one of the exciting items are all the purses Lillie Mae had stored away.
“Ms. Green was known for her purses,” Yarck said. “All the ladies in Gainesville would go and get their summer purse from Green’s. My grandmother had them, my mom had them, my aunt had them. Everybody had purses from Green’s.”
Downstairs, clothes are stacked and hung on racks. There are more dishes, and of course, more flour sifters than one can count. There are vintage ice boxes and an old rocking chair, handmade at the now-closed Georgia Chair Co.
Through the sliding glass door on the concrete patio is something else Lillie Mae was known for. Baskets are stacked about knee-high all over.
“That was her thing,” Yarck said. “They would be used for gifts, so people would come in, grab a basket they want to use and get something like four steaks, four potatoes and they would wrap it up.”
Though the house seemed cluttered before Birds of a Feather started working on it, each little piece of Gainesville history and the history of a family that meant so much to the community has been pulled out, put on display and is ready for a new home to be enjoyed for years to come.
“Everything that is sold here goes back into the community for the charities,” Yarck said. “It’s an honor to be a part of something like this. We love what we do and we love serving the people of this community.”