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Gitenstein estate sale set

Alan Cotton stands inside the room where all the books are compiled. | Stephanie Nelson/Star-News

Inside the Florala home of the late Seymour and Anna Gitenstein, it’s things like a 14-foot dining room table, the more than 300 pieces of stemware, the thousands of books and other treasures that will make one pause.

But it is the former owners themselves who make the contents so interesting.

Considered a local icon, Seymour Gitenstein moved to Florala from New York at age 17 to help his father in the family business – the Riverside Shirt and Underwear Corporation or, as it’s known to locals, the Franklin Ferguson sewing factory.

He is credited with establishing the Florala Memorial Hospital, and his foundation provided hundreds of scholarships. A classical pianist, he also was a patron of the arts.

The Gitenstein family has owned the property where the split-level home sits for more than 50 years. Anna passed away in 1988, and Seymour died last year. He was 95.

Now, the public has an opportunity to see and own a piece of the couple’s vast collection of books, art, glassware, collectibles and items garnered during their lives when Alan Cotton and his staff host an estate sale this weekend.

Cotton, who, in addition to Alan Cotton Florist, also owns an auction company, said it is the largest sale his company has handled.

“As far as content goes, this is it,” he said. “Mr. Gitenstein and his wife were avid collectors and hobbyists. The uniqueness of this estate is the sheer amount of contents found here and the variety of it.”

Cotton said it has taken the better part of a month to organize the contents of the home and get them ready for the sale.

“It’s kind of like a jigsaw puzzle,” he said. “You may find a piece of one thing here, and another piece there, and not realize what you have until it’s all put together.”

One such example is the Gitenstein’s literary collection, which ranged from Dr. Seuss’ books and playbills from long-ago theater events to musical scores, popular fiction and everything in between.

“People can browse for hours going through these titles,” he said. “These are books that came from every nook and cranny of this house. Book lovers will love it because there are so many different topics.”

Cotton said the Gitensteins were also into ceramics, photography and other hobbies.

“There’s a closet filled with molds that they never got around to casting and one closet filled with nothing but film and photography equipment,” he said.

“It would be too difficult to list everything that is in this house – there’s just too much,” he said.

Cotton described the home as a “Brady Bunch house.”

“It is very typical of the 1950s and 1960s,” he said. “There is a huge amount of glassware and decorative items, too.”

One hot estate item will be the couple’s Wedgewood collection, he said.

“There are several very highly collectible pieces in this home,” he said. “People will have to come see for themselves.

“If you think about it, there’s a lot of items that have been locked away in a drawer for the last 50 years,” he said. “How can you not want to come and see what kind of treasures you can find?”

The sale is set for Saturday, from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m., and on Sunday from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. Cash and checks will be accepted.

Parking may be a challenge, as no cars will be allowed down the home’s drive.

“We’re hoping to maybe have some shuttles available,” Cotton said. “And of course, we’ll work with buyers when it comes to loading items.”

The home is located at 582 Fifth Street in Florala.

Some items may be previewed on the Star-News website. Inside the Florala home of the late Seymour and Anna Gitenstein, it’s things like a 14-foot dining room table, the more than 300 pieces of stemware, the thousands of books and other treasures that will make one pause.

But it is the former owners themselves who make the contents so interesting.

Considered a local icon, Seymour Gitenstein moved to Florala from New York at age 17 to help his father in the family business – the Riverside Shirt and Underwear Corporation or, as it’s known to locals, the Franklin Ferguson sewing factory.

He is credited with establishing the Florala Memorial Hospital, and his foundation provided hundreds of scholarships. A classical pianist, he also was a patron of the arts.

The Gitenstein family has owned the property where the split-level home sits for more than 50 years. Anna passed away in 1988, and Seymour died last year. He was 95.

Now, the public has an opportunity to see and own a piece of the couple’s vast collection of books, art, glassware, collectibles and items garnered during their lives when Alan Cotton and his staff host an estate sale this weekend.

Cotton, who, in addition to Alan Cotton Florist, also owns an auction company, said it is the largest sale his company has handled.

“As far as content goes, this is it,” he said. “Mr. Gitenstein and his wife were avid collectors and hobbyists. The uniqueness of this estate is the sheer amount of contents found here and the variety of it.”

Cotton said it has taken the better part of a month to organize the contents of the home and get them ready for the sale.

“It’s kind of like a jigsaw puzzle,” he said. “You may find a piece of one thing here, and another piece there, and not realize what you have until it’s all put together.”

One such example is the Gitenstein’s literary collection, which ranged from Dr. Seuss’ books and playbills from long-ago theater events to musical scores, popular fiction and everything in between.

“People can browse for hours going through these titles,” he said. “These are books that came from every nook and cranny of this house. Book lovers will love it because there are so many different topics.”

Cotton said the Gitensteins were also into ceramics, photography and other hobbies.

“There’s a closet filled with molds that they never got around to casting and one closet filled with nothing but film and photography equipment,” he said.

“It would be too difficult to list everything that is in this house – there’s just too much,” he said.

Cotton described the home as a “Brady Bunch house.”

“It is very typical of the 1950s and 1960s,” he said. “There is a huge amount of glassware and decorative items, too.”

One hot estate item will be the couple’s Wedgewood collection, he said.

“There are several very highly collectible pieces in this home,” he said. “People will have to come see for themselves.

“If you think about it, there’s a lot of items that have been locked away in a drawer for the last 50 years,” he said. “How can you not want to come and see what kind of treasures you can find?”

The sale is set for Saturday, from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m., and on Sunday from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. Cash and checks will be accepted.

Parking may be a challenge, as no cars will be allowed down the home’s drive.

“We’re hoping to maybe have some shuttles available,” Cotton said. “And of course, we’ll work with buyers when it comes to loading items.”

The home is located at 582 Fifth Street in Florala.

Some items may be previewed on the Star-News website.