HOULTON, Maine — A new and popular summer activity in Houlton that is designed to identify treasures among what some people might believe is trash will return to the community next week.
Lori Weston, executive director of the Greater Houlton Chamber of Commerce, said during a recent interview that the Chamber will be bringing Thomaston Place Auction Galleries’ Mobile Appraisal Coach back to town on Friday, June 25. The coach will be at the Houlton Higher Education Center on Military Street from noon to 5 p.m.
The event will feature instant, on-site appraisals by Thomaston Place’s Kaja Veilleux and John Bottero for antique or collectible items. The first-of-its-kind, 36-foot-long motor coach is equipped with state-of-the-art appraisal tools and reference materials.
The Chamber first brought the coach to Houlton in 2007 to celebrate the town’s 200th birthday. Before the arrival of the rolling appraisal unit, residents from Houlton and surrounding communities dug through their attics and basements for vases, paintings, antique clocks and other odds and ends and lined up to see if the items had any value.
A number of people discovered that some of the items handed down to them by relatives were actually worth much more than they thought they could get in a yard sale.
Weston told town councilors during a recent meeting that one person found out an item was so valuable the appraiser advised the owner to go home and put it in a safe immediately.
The event will serve as a fundraiser for the Chamber. There will be a suggested donation of $10 per item or $25 for three items, and 100 percent of the proceeds will be donated to the organization. Funds earned from the event help to promote and grow future Chamber events, including Midnight Madness, the arts and crafts shows and many other activities.
“I am very excited that the Thomaston Place Auction Galleries Appraisal Coach are returning to Houlton and again donating their services to help us raise needed funds,” said Weston. “This is a wonderful opportunity for people to find out what their family heirlooms and household treasures are worth, while supporting their local chamber at the same time.”
Veilleux, who is the president of Thomaston Place, noted that his organization does free appraisals at its Thomaston gallery every week. That practice has gone on for more than 20 years. He and his staff are excited to bring the service to Houlton to support what he described as “the worthwhile efforts” of the Chamber.
Participants are encouraged to bring any items that they want to have appraised to the event. If items are too large to be transported to the coach, detailed photographs can be used to determine their approximate value. There are no appointments, and each person will have a chance to meet with an appraiser on a first-come, first-served basis.