Chestnut Hill neighbors coming together for huge yard sale May 30

Published 12:02 am Friday, May 15, 2015

SALISBURY — It was soothing music to work by.

The  organist  at Haven Lutheran Church practiced hymns upstairs Thursday morning while residents of Chestnut Hill were downstairs sorting, organizing and pricing all the items donated for their big community yard sale.

“We don’t charge extra for the organ accompaniment,” Joyce Heilig said,

This is a neighborhood working hard to make a comeback, and it’s reflected in the rooms of  stuff that will go on sale from 8 a.m.-noon May 30 in the basement and rear parking lot of Haven Lutheran Church, located at 207 W. Harrison St.

In addition, the Chestnut Hill Neighborhood Association will raffle off a handmade quilt and afghan. Boy Scout Troop 448, which is based out of Coburn Memorial United Methodist Church, also will have its food truck on site to sell hot dogs, chips and drinks.

“It was nice we could get them in on the project, too,” Elysia Demers said.

For the yard sale itself, the organizers have been overwhelmed by donations from the neighborhood congregations — Coburn, Haven, St. Paul’s Episcopal and Stallings Memorial Baptist — and from residents in Chestnut Hill and adjacent neighborhoods such as the West Square and Fulton Heights.

Organizers started planning for the yard sale in January and have been accepting donations on the first Saturday of each month and from 9 a.m.-noon on Tuesdays. Demers, one of the chief ramrods for the yard sale, said no more donations are being accepted because volunteers have to get down to the time-consuming work of getting it all ready for display.

She said the quality of items is impressive and includes a wide variety of electronics, appliances, housewares,  purses, toys, holiday decor, clothing, collectibles, books — even some homemade jewelry.

Heilig makes incredibly fashionable necklaces from the paper covers of Sunday church bulletins. Over the years, she has made hundreds of the necklaces

“It’s kind of fun — keeps me out of mischief,” Heilig added.

In width, Chestnut Hill generally extends from South Main to South Fulton streets, and in length, from Thomas Street south to include Chestnut Hill Cemetery. It’s more than a century-old working-class neighborhood, but today’s challenges are things such as absentee landlords and neglected properties, transient residents, changing demographics, increased crime and dwindling church membership.

The four churches have long served as a backbone to Chestnut Hill.

Historic Salisbury Foundation and preservation-minded Realtors kickstarted efforts to revitalize the neighborhood by buying or taking options on several distressed properties and looking to find new owners, such as Demers and her husband.

The foundation also has tried to help in taking an inventory of all the Chestnut Hill properties and looking into the neighborhood’s possible designation as a National Register of Historic Places district.

Meanwhile, the neighborhood association’s board meets once a month and tries to have three community-wide meetings a year. Some of the overall goals cited by stakeholders in the past have included returning homes to owner-occupied status; making the neighborhood safer, cleaner and more attractive; and promoting the neighborhood’s identity.

Demers said proceeds from the yard sale will go toward the group’s own “BlockWorks” kind of projects. The residents are developing a list of distressed properties and hoping the community can have work days to help individual property owners with things such as roof repair or building or taking off handicapped ramps.

Demers, Heilig, Sally Bradley, Judy Smith and Faye Harper were working hard Thursday morning, aiming toward the big day May 30.

“There’s still a lot to do,” Demers said.

Cue the organ.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or