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The lifetime estate of the late Zoe Spedale to be sold at auction by Stevens Auction Co.
Oil on canvas by David Bates (Br., 1840-1921), of cows on a river bank with a man watching.

ABERDEEN, MISS.- The lifetime estate of the late Zoe Spedale – a socialite, true Southern lady and wife of a world-renowned surgeon, who appointed their spectacular Louisiana home with the finest artwork, furniture and decorative accessories life had to offer, gathered quite literally from around the word – will be sold on Saturday, June 7th, by Stevens Auction Company in Aberdeen.

The auction will start promptly at 9 a.m. Central time and be held in Stevens Auction Company’s gallery, located at 609 North Meridian Street in Aberdeen (situated about halfway between Tupelo and Columbus, Miss., on U.S. 45). Internet bidding will be facilitated by and The auction will consist entirely of Ms. Spedale’s massive collection.

“This could very well be the biggest, most important auction I’ve ever held,” said Dwight Stevens of Stevens Auction Company, no small statement considering he’s been conducting estate auctions throughout the Southeast for decades. “I was in total awe of what I saw in the house in Plaquemine, La. (just outside Baton Rouge) that she called home for over 50 years.”

The estimated 500 lots that have been carefully trucked from Plaquemine to Aberdeen include original oil paintings by noted, listed artist from Europe and the United States, rare clocks (to include a monumental grandfather clock by R. J. Horner), spectacular chandeliers, palace-size Persian rugs, porcelain pieces by Old Paris, Sevres and others, fine china, crystal and lighting.

The artwork will feature an original oil on canvas painting by the important Victorian and landscape artist Henry John Yeend King (Br., 1855-1924), titled Wait For Me (est. $25,000-$40,000); an oil on canvas by English landscape artist David Bates (Br., 1840-1921) of cows on a riverbank with a man watching (est. $10,000-$20,000); and an oil on board by the Dusseldorf School painter Julius Hebner (Germ., 1806-1882) of a woman and a girl (est. $7,000-$12,000).

Other original paintings will include an oil on canvas rendering of a man and a woman by the renowned 1880s French artist Emile Auguste Pinchart (1842-1924), titled Her Favorite; a work by the English artist W. D. McKay (1826-1916), titled The Path Through the Fields; and art by the notable painter Lionel Charles Henley (Br., 1843-1893) and an artist who signs “S. Barnes.”

Period furniture will be sold as well, to include a massive 30-foot Chippendale dining table that was once used at Thomas Jefferson’s estate home in Monticello (plus the accompanying set of 20 Chippendale chairs), tables (all inlaid, and some marble-top), a gorgeous linen chest that sat in the dining room and a grand secretary. Victorian wrought-iron lawn furniture will also be sold.

“Zoe Spedale had impeccable taste and lots of money, which she wasn’t afraid to spend when it came to her home,” Mr. Stevens said. “She and her husband would travel the world and come back with incredible artwork and other rare finds. And everything she bought got used – the fine china, the crystal glassware, the Staffordshire, Royal Vienna, the Sevres, the Minton – all of it.”

The Spedales were upper crust Southern socialites who threw lavish parties in their Plaquemine home, but the fact is they grew up dirt poor. Both had ambition, though, and Zoe went to Charity Nursing School and went on to become an anesthesiologist (unusual for a woman at that time). Her career was short-lived, however. She fell in love, and married Dr. Rhodes Joseph Spedale.

He had gone to Tulane Medical and Pharmacy School and began his career as a pharmacist. Then he enrolled at Harvard University, where he took classes to become specialized. He came back to Louisiana and worked for a while at Charity Hospital in New Orleans. Then he and Zoe moved to Plaquemine, where he became a small-town doctor and later a world-class surgeon.

The home the couple chose was conveniently located near the local hospital, and had been built between 1898 and 1902, in advance of the St. Louis World’s Fair of 1904. It was a showcase of a home, one the Spedales paid about $5,000 cash for at the height of the Great Depression in 1936. But they entertained like something out of the pages of The Great Gatsby – no expenses spared.

Zoe was prim and proper, and a teetotaler, too. She didn’t drink, but she wasn’t afraid to serve up an alcoholic concoction that consisted of ten layers of liquor, which created a rainbow effect. She was an equestrian – a lover of horses – and she had a huge spoon collection, about 10,000 spoons in all (alas, she sold them some years ago). She loved parties, people, her husband and her home.

Maybe not in that order, judging from all the time, money and attention she paid to her lavish living space. Dr. Spedale indulged her, giving Zoe carte blanche to buy whatever she wanted to make the home a veritable museum, but he was no idle bystander. On their many trips to New Orleans, Europe and elsewhere, he would offer his input. He’d also buy on his own, while away.

Dr. Spedale retired in 1974, after suffering the first of what would be several heart attacks. He passed away in 1983. Zoe died in 1999, and for years her granddaughter and her family lived in the stately old residence. The entire contents remained in place, left as-is upon Zoe’s death, and nothing was removed until Dwight Stevens’ trucks began carting the treasures back to Aberdeen.

The house is empty now. The granddaughter has moved out and the structure is in a state of disrepair. Electric bills, she said, got as high as $1,700 a month, and many upgrades would be needed to restore the home to its former grandeur. But it’s not certain what will be its fate, as Plaquemine today isn’t considered an address for success. It will probably be sold and razed.

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