Auctioning off pieces of Preston's Corner - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Auctioning off pieces of Preston's Corner

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BELLE PLAINE (KWWL) -

Preston's Corner is considered by many to be a part of Eastern Iowa history.

Also known as the George Preston Filling Station, the business has greeted Belle Plaine visitors along Lincoln Highway since 1923.

Saturday morning, an auctioneer kicked off the sale of thousands of items collected by Preston, and later by his son Ron.

Some, like Steve Kupka, came for a deal.

"I tried to buy a little steam engine. Tried! Things are selling well here today," said Kupka.

Others were there just to look. And there was a lot to see -- every piece with a story.

"This stuff didn't just appear overnight. It's generations. Been collected for years and years and years," said George Preston's great granddaughters Kimberly & Kari Bovard.

It seems everyone at this auction in Belle Plaine has fond memories of Preston's Corner, and that's especially true for the Preston's themselves.

"It was grandma and grandpa's! I mean, you know?" said George's granddaughter, Mary Helen Preston.

George Preston inherited the filling station from his father, who purchased it in 1923 for just $100. Over the years, George, and his collection, made the building famous.

"In 1989, 90, my grandpa went to the Johnny Carson Show. Which I got to go with him!" said his other granddaughter Georgetta Preston.

Georgetta and Mary Helen's father, Ron, kept the tradition (and the collection) going until he passed away one year ago Sunday. Before he died, he gave them clear instructions to sell the majority of the items. That's exactly what they were doing Saturday -- one sale at a time.

"Our desire is to get these items out to people to enjoy," said Mary Helen.

Some of the items were worth five, ten bucks. Others were worth thousands -- including a 1919 horse drawn school bus, two Model T trucks, and several visible pumps. But for the Preston family, the value was not in the items. It's in their memories.

"We have a lot of sentimental value in every piece, so for us it's not like, a money amount. We're not seeing dollar signs," said Kimberly & Kari.

"It's Dad. It's our family," echoed Mary Helen. "So it's bittersweet. We're doing what we're instructed to do, but yet, it's the anniversary of his death, and in reality, 19 years ago tomorrow our grandpa passed away too."

They're doing their best to keep their emotions out of the sale. But Georgetta knows it will be hard to look around when the auction is over.

"Gonna wake up and all this stuff is gone. But we know we're doing what my dad wanted us to do," she said.

Just because the majority of the items are going, the memories are still here.

"Bring our families up here and tell them the stories. Bring our kids and their kids," said George's great granddaughters.

And as each item was sold, the Prestons knew George and Ron would be happy to see the items they spent years collecting going to a new family... maybe even starting a new collection.

"I'm sure they're very proud of us. Up there in heaven," said Georgetta.

Mary Helen is hoping to get Preston's Corner on the National Register of Historic Places. She says, now that the auction is over, that's the next project for the family to tackle

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