PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Anyone who has ever wanted a piece of Frank Rizzo is in luck. The home of the loved and loathed former Philadelphia mayor and police chief is for sale, and so is just about everything inside.
Rizzo’s estate sale starts Black Friday, Nov. 23, and will feature hundreds of items both large and small, including his billy club and Rolodex, Italian-made furniture, and a signed picture of Richard Nixon, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Thursday.
Rizzo’s wife, Carmella, died in July at age 101. John Romani, who is handling the estate sale, said Rizzo’s son reached out after her death to say the family wanted to sell the house and clear it out.
Aside from a few trinkets and paperwork from the papal visit in 1976, everything else must go, including business cards, cologne, alarm clocks with Rizzo’s name plated in gold, trinkets from dignitaries, and even his rakes, tools and garden hoses.
Philadelphia has long tried to reconcile the complicated legacy of Rizzo, who served as mayor from 1972 to 1980 and who died of a heart attack in 1991. His friends, family and fans remember him as a devoted public servant unafraid to speak his mind. His detractors saw his police force as corrupt and brutal and said Rizzo alienated minorities both as police commissioner and mayor.
It’s not clear whether the billy club up for grabs is the same one the tuxedo-clad former police commissioner stuck into his cummerbund during a disturbance at a housing project in the 1960s, immortalized in a photo . But it’s a potent symbol of the mayor who imposed his tough version of law and order on the city. The signed photograph of Nixon thanks Rizzo for his “respect for law.”
Recent protests and community meetings over a statue of Rizzo near City Hall led Mayor Jim Kenney to announce it would be moved to a new location in the next two years or so.
The house, in the city’s leafy Chestnut Hill section, is for sale for $1.695 million, and its legacy, too, is complicated.
A controversy erupted when Rizzo bought the 8,000-square-foot house in 1973 for $90,000; the mayor’s salary was only $40,000 a year, according to the Inquirer. He also managed to finance $410,000 in upgrades to the house, including a walk-in fridge in the basement that, when Romani opened it, was still full of what appeared to be victory champagne from the 1970s.
Ever since Romani listed the sale, he said, Rizzo fans have his phone ringing off the hook. He has gotten calls from elderly Italian women from South Philly, some asking if Rizzo’s bed is for sale, and another saying she wanted to “make the pilgrimage” to the sale.
“They just feel like they’re buying a piece of the dream,” Romani said. “They’ll take anything. They’ll take a business card. They’ll take a mug. It’s just a mug, but it’s a mug Frank drank out of.”
Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.inquirer.com
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