Friday, June 11, 2010

Vanished Rochester: Smart's Auction

In the days before eBay, live auction sales were the usual method of disposing of goods and property, and sale barns were the place to seek an afternoon's entertainment, even if you weren't buying or selling. In the Rochester area, we had Smart's Auction, located on the north side of Tienken Road, just west of Rochester Road. Langley and Mildred Smart bought the 27 acre parcel, which included a farmhouse and five barns, in 1939. The previous owner, L.E. Pain, had been in the livestock auction business in the Rochester area for a number of years, and after selling to the Smarts, he agreed to stay on and run the livestock auction for them.

After World War II ended, farms in Avon Township were being subdivided to provide housing, and the livestock auction business was declining, so the Smarts transitioned their business to estate liquidation and antiques. As they became more and more interested in taking buying trips to acquire antiques and import items, they leased out their auction barn. Finally, Smart's Sale Barn closed in 1978 and the property was sold for development.

My mother has fond memories from her childhood of attending sales at Smart's with her own mother. She remembers the fun of sorting through a miscellaneous box lot, purchased for a dollar or less, to look for buried treasures. Did you visit Smart's auction? What was the most interesting item you ever bought there?

This photo of a sign from Smart's Auction is from the collection of Rod and Susan Wilson.


  1. I went to Smart's auction quite often and am still using my most memorable purchase. I had just bought an old round oak table from Goodwill and there, on Smart's auction block was the perfect centerpiece--a round oak lazy- susan. The only problem was that every time I bid someone kept bidding more. As I recall, the bid went all the way up to $1.50 before I realized it was my mother who was bidding against me. She wanted to buy it for me. So, like a good daughter I stopped bidding. Thanks Mom, and thank you, blog, for the wonderful memories.

  2. My mother bought two dolphin chairs at Smart's Barn Auction that were covered in green stripe silk and sun damaged. I've inherited them when no one else wanted them bec they are small, feminine women's chairs.