Reprinted with permission from The Island Weekly - May 21 2002  - volume 20, number 21

"34th Annual Lopez Historical Society Auction Makes Memorable Memorial Day Weekend" by Leta Currie-Marshall

Nancy McCoy has worked at every one of the 33 Annual Lopez Historical Society Auctions, first as a volunteer and now as director of the Society and curator of the Lopez Historical Museum.She remembers the early days when the auction was held on the lawn in front of the museum. Islanders would pile their donations on the ground and offer suggestions as to what should be auctioned next (i.e., the item they were waiting to bid on).Nowadays the auction is held at the Lopez Legion Hall on the Sunday before Memorial Day. Preview and yard sale (in the annex) begin at 9:00 a.m., with bidding opening at 11:00 a.m. Admission and a bidding paddle are free.

Donated items of an astonishing variety have gone on the block over the years, from valuable antiques to oddities from island attics. Weekend getaways at area resorts, one-of-a-kind curiosities, exercise equipment, original art, furniture, and valuable merchandise and services from local vendors are standard. A list of items is posted at the Lopez Village Market in the days before the auction to entice islanders and visitors alike.

Some items get repeatedly bought and re-donated, coming back year after year. McCoy calls these old friendsthey keep making money for us. Some buyers come back year after year too, many traveling from out of state just for the occasion after calling McCoy ahead of time to make sure of the date.

The auction has been described as island entertainment at its best, with lively auctioneers like this years Liz Scranton and Michael Adams to keep things rocking.

The week before the auction, McCoy practically moves into the Legion Hall as she and her crew of loyal volunteers sort, fix, paint, catalogue and arrange all the stuff being donated right up to the last minute.We perform miracles, she said.

As always, this year there are some real goodies: a 36 foot Nomad trailer, a Troybilt chipper/shredder, a roll-top desk, an inflatable with a 10hp Mercury motor, and who knows what else.

McCoy said that while the auction is a fund raiser, the whole point is for everybody to have fun, so the event is deliberately kept affordable. In recent years shes added free drawings scattered throughout the auction (must be present to win).

This is the Historical Societys major fund raiser and supports daily operations, special projects, the maintenance of a growing collection and McCoys part-time salary.

The Lopez Historical Museum was scheduled for an expansion until the acquisition of the historic Port Stanley Schoolhouse made a priority of saving that building from total collapse.

This year the museum too has needed and received extensive repairs boosting sagging trusses, insulating the building (for the first time), sealing the cement floor (also for the first time), replacing the ridge skylight, painting the interior, replacing warped siding, installing a new hot water system, and more. McCoy and volunteers did much of the work, including taking down exhibits, cleaning and reinstalling them with new easier to read, more informative labels. Hopes are that the School will be finished by late summer. After a celebratory open house it will be available for rent for classes, meetings, and other public events.

By the time its finished, well have spent somewhere around $200,000, McCoy said, but she believes it will have been worth it because the building will be a showcase of good historic preservation. Attention to detail and the thoughtful use of salvaged building materials give the school an authentic and beautiful ambience.

Plans are in the works for a parking lot north of the School, which will be carefully designed to retain trees and habitat and be screened from the road. McCoy will know by midsummer if a capital project development grant to fund the parking lot will be forthcoming.

For more information about the Auction or the Lopez Historical Society, call Nancy McCoy at 468-3447.