OSGOOD — Ask the average citizen in Osgood if they know a Damm, and they’ll likely reply “yes.”
In the least, the average citizen in Osgood has HEARD of a Damm. Be it the Damm Dairy, the Damm Tailor, the Damm Bakery and Lunchroom, the Damm Auto Hotel, Bob & Judy’s Damm Good Pizza & Donuts, or – the granddaddy of them all – the Damm Theatre, Osgood has no shortage of Damm history.
Starting Nov. 1, huge pieces of that history go on sale at the Damm Theatre/Family Estate Sale in Osgood.
Cindy Smotherman and her Firehouse Antiques-Estate Sales of New Harmony will be coordinating. The event will include a sizable collection of memorabilia from the Damm Theatre, which has been an Osgood fixture since first opening in 1914 under the proprietorship of German Immigrant and family patriarch Louis Damm.
Smotherman stressed that the Damm Theatre itself is not among the items available at the three-day sale.
“The Damm Theatre on Hwy 421 is NOT closing,” she said. “The items on sale are from the Damm Family when they owned the Damm Theatre in Osgood.”
The Damms, in fact, haven’t owned the theatre since the late 1990s.
Viola Damm was the last of the family to run the endeavor on a full-time basis. She was the widow of Louise’s son Joe, who died 1973, after having owned and run the Damm with Viola for 43 years. With the help of her son Bob and grandsons Andy and David, Viola would carry on the theatre’s legacy for another 26 years until her own death in 1989.
Bob and his wife, Judy, attempted to keep the theatre going, but in the end, it proved too big an endeavor. In the late 1990s, the couple sold to Osgood’s non-profit Reynolds Foundation.
According to Judy, the foundation hit the ground running with the theatre, starting a total renovation on it shortly after buying.
“They [the Reynolds Foundation] got our permission to keep the name and turned it into a state-of-the-art theatre,” Judy told the Daily News.
In addition to movies, the modern Damm Theatre also hosts numerous community events, including musicals, plays and a host of other productions.
Bob has since passed away, and Judy, now remarried, no longer lives in the Damm House at 139 East Ripley Street in Osgood; the house she once shared with husband Bob and their sons Andy and David. It’s the same home originally purchased by Joe and Viola Damm the year they married and bought the theatre – 1930.
That’s where Smotherman and the Firehouse come in. Both the home at 139 East Ripley Street and the large barn behind it will be part of the estate sale. More, although the Damm family hasn’t owned the cinema for years, they DO still own a huge collection of memorabilia from the days when they did own it. All those items will be sold Nov. 1 to 3, as well.
“We gave a lot of stuff to the museum in Osgood,” Judy said. “The children took some of the furniture and the memorabilia, but there are still many things left.”
“We are selling everything,” Smotherman said, “including old signs, vintage movie posters, lobby cards, glass movie and advertising slides, and the 1920s Damm Theatre Talkies Marquee that hung outside.”
The glass slides to which Smotherman referred were placed in front of the film projector before the feature and mostly contained advertisements for local business.
“I have 100s of the slides,” Smotherman said. “They advertised everything from beer and billiards, to a local Ford dealer, to movies and restaurants. There were mostly for local establishments, though.”
Damm Theatre memorabilia won’t be the only items up for auction, though. According to Smotherman, the estate sale will also include plenty of items not related to the theatre, including shelves, garden tools, cabinets, furniture, glassware – even an old player piano.
There will also be items from the Damm Dairy, the Damm Tailor, and Bob & Judy’s Damm Good Pizza & Donuts.
“There are a lot of antiques,” Smotherman said. “Everything will be cash and carry.”
Judy and her daughter Angela, along with her current husband Bob Ruggles, will attend the estate sale for the entire day of all three days. For Judy, it will be a bittersweet experience.
“It’s very difficult; there’s just so many memories,” she said. “But we simply can’t take care of it all.”
Judy hopes to sell the items to people who understand and appreciate the people and history behind them. That’s especially true of the house, which was built in 1866.
“I want someone to buy it who’ll take care of it,” she said. “I hope to sell it to someone who’ll appreciate it, who’ll understand and appreciate the history and background of the Damms and what hard workers they were. They did so much for Osgood, and I’d like to hope that the people who buy the house will appreciate the history of Osgood.”
Viola Damm, she added, didn’t make much money off the cinema after Joe’s death, but held onto it and kept it running because she understood its importance in the community and its place in history. That’s the legacy she hopes people who participate in the auction will appreciate and keep in mind.
“This is the end of an era,” she said. “And it’s difficult.”
The Damm Theatre/Family Estate Sale will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Nov. 1 to 3, at 139 East Ripley Street, Osgood. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/17MA0cL or call Firehouse Antiques at 812-781-1390.
Contact: Rob Cox 812-663-3111 x7011