Popular American Pickers duo creates a stir at recent Wisconsin stop
FOND DU LAC, Wis. (AP) – A woman who owns the historic Octagon House said she wrote to the American Pickers television show with hopes she could sell them the Linden Street property.
Marlene Hansen said she cannot continue to maintain the Octagon House and her rural Fond du Lac costume and bridal rental shop. She intends to sell both.
“I was hoping for an opportunity to sell the (Octagon) house,” said Hansen, noting that it has been on the market for five years. “Better things have happened.”
Crew members from American Pickers created a neighborhood stir on Linden Street a couple weeks ago when they arrived at the Octagon House, 276 Linden St., and began filming for a possible episode. The entourage included the stars of the show, Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz.
For anyone not familiar with the show, American Pickers follows the pair as they scour the country for hidden antique gems in junkyards, basements, garages and barns.
The Octagon House – listed on the National Register of Historic Places – is touted as one of Wisconsin’s most haunted sites. Originally built as an Indian fort and trading post, the Octagon House was later used as a safe house for runaway slaves during the Civil War, according to its website. The house has 12 rooms and nine passageways, and docents report strange happenings almost every week.
Hansen said the American Pickers group seemed “all upset” by the time they arrived hours late due to some equipment failures and other delays.
“I wrote them and told them I can remember my mother and I buying and selling big time, doing exactly what they’re doing,” Hansen said of the letter actually drafted by her daughter, Julia.
The crew filmed downtown, where a few purchases were made, and then headed to Hansen’s country home at N6209 County Trunk K – site of the costume shop.
One of the American Pickers’ purchases was Hansen’s white leather fringe jacket and hat _ something she wore while showing horses in the 1950s.-
They also bought some “motorcycle stuff,” Hansen said, from a time in the 1950s when she and her late husband were riding motorcycles.
Wolfe and Fritz apparently were impressed with the organization of Hansen’s properties.
“They are used to piles of junk and weeds,” Hansen said. “I’m still renting and selling costumes. I have to stay organized.”
Both properties, Hansen said, are full of “vintage everything.”
She envisions the Octagon House being operated as a bed and breakfast, with its furnished five bedrooms and two bathrooms. She said the property was purchased just “four hours from demolition” in 1975.
“It was an absolute wreck,” she said of the home when she purchased it more than 30 years ago. “We spent 31/2 years saving this house and $150,000 out of our pocket. We did it on a whim.”
Marlene’s, her costume shop property, was bought in the late 1950s. The country property includes converted horse barns and a 21-room house.
Hansen said the 4,000 wedding gowns and 15,000 to 20,000 garments in her collection were accumulated over generations.
“I’d like to have an auction – it’s overwhelming,” she said.
The American Pickers crew left Hansen’s town of Empire property and apparently headed for a location in Michigan. Hansen said they intended to take the car ferry across Lake Michigan.
“They were kind of in a hurry – they got here so late,” she said.
If the Octagon House or Hansen’s costume shop is featured in an upcoming episode, she figures it could be in October or November. The show vowed to contact her when the date is known.
Hansen has appeared on several television shows, including Ripley’s Believe It or Not but none like American Pickers.
“It was interesting getting in and meeting the guys,” she said. “I’ve never been through anything like that.”
Wolfe and Fritz were looking for certain things “like most dealers,” Hansen said. “There was more out on Highway K of what they were after.”
Hansen, who said she’ll turn 72 in a couple months, said the buying and selling “bug” seems to be in the family genes.
“Julia, my daughter, has a hard time passing up a rummage sale,” said Hansen, adding that her family was doing estate sales “before it had a title.”
Information from: The Reporter, http://www.fdlreporter.com
Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.