Artist's home auction halted

November 02, 2008|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,ed.gunts@baltsun.com

The former residence of Maryland artist Grace Turnbull was withdrawn from a scheduled auction yesterday, but the auctioneers said representatives for Turnbull's estate would still entertain private offers for the property at 223 Chancery Road in Guilford.

A sale of Turnbull's personal property, including sculptures, paintings, books and furniture, will proceed during an auction that is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. today at Alex Cooper Auctioneers, 908 York Road in Towson.

Turnbull died in 1976 and left her Spanish Colonial-style house and much of her artwork to the Maryland Historical Society, which has maintained them for more than 30 years. But last year, the historical society relinquished its rights to the property, saying it was unable to maintain it as the artist's will stipulated. That action triggered a series of events that led the trustees for the Turnbull estate to order this weekend's sales to benefit her heirs.

More than 50 people gathered for the auction yesterday morning on the front lawn of the Turnbull house, but bids were never taken. Instead, Jon Levinson, vice president of Alex Cooper, told onlookers that the auction would not be held and that his company would consider private offers instead.

One group that has expressed strong interest in buying the property is the Friends of Grace Turnbull, a group that wants to create a house museum to honor Turnbull's legacy. It can be contacted at graceturn bull@aol.com.

Christine Tyson Harrison, who founded Friends of Grace Turnbull, said her group includes representatives of approximately a dozen community and preservation groups that would like to buy the house. She said her group has restoration experience but still needs to raise sufficient funds.

"We know this is something that we could put together if we had more time," she said yesterday. "We would like an opportunity to make an offer."

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