OLYMPIA FIELDS — Lynn McDaniel is a blur as she clacks down the stairs of architect William E. Brazley’s 7,000-square-foot mansion in her cheetah-print shoes.
McDaniel’s glasses, fingernails and lips are all red as she walks to a living room decorated with cream, plush carpet and ’80s furniture. Hanging on and leaning against the walls in another room are stacks of framed art from Jonathan Green, Jackson Collins and Lee White. A glass cabinet holds Tiffany drinkware.
For 13 years, McDaniel and her husband, Ty McDaniel, have operated An Orange Moon vintage shop in Wicker Park and liquidated the estates of Chicago’s icons.
Dubbed the Estate Sale Goddess, McDaniel and her husband — the Estate Sale God — have worked with the family of Claude Barnett, founder of the Associated Negro Press, and his wife, actress Etta Moten Barnett. They’ve sold artwork owned by late Ebony Magazine editor Lerone Bennett and managed the estate of Olympian Jesse Owens.
The McDaniels’ latest work has taken them to the home of Brazley, a Black architectural giant, and his wife, Peggy Brazley, in south suburban Olympia Fields.
The estate sale for the Brazley family is 9 am-4 pm Aug. 5-7. McDaniel will disclose the home’s address 24 hours before the sale begins, she said. Items are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
As guests walk from room to room, they’ll learn the life history of the Brazley family through their belongings, McDaniel said. Everyone has a story; it’s the McDaniels’ job to tell it, she said.
“There are a lot of families around Chicago that no one knows about,” McDaniels said. “It’s important for us to tell that history because this is a learning lesson, not just for us but, hopefully, for the world. It’s an honor and a privilege to come into these wonderful people’s homes and lives.”
‘They Never Gave Up’
The Brazley family “broke barriers,” McDaniel said.
Before William Brazley died in 2008, he owned William Brazley and Associates, a minority-owned architectural firm in Matteson, Illinois. He worked on the Convocation Center at Chicago State University and the Air France and Lufthansa airline facilities at O’Hare International Airport.
Brazley was also the financial campaign manager for former Mayor Harold Washington. In the late ’90s, he and a friend desegregated the Olympia Fields Country Club, becoming its first Black members.
Brazley’s wife, Peggy, handled operations, McDaniel said. She’s alive.
“They never gave up. They continued to go forward,” McDaniel said. “They grew, and they brought other people along with them for the ride. They’ve made a name for themselves in history. Mr. Brazley will forever be known as the architect extraordinaire. And don’t sleep on Peggy, because behind every great man is a queen.”
Before the McDaniels get to work with a “small, kick-ass team,” sorting through belongings, learning the history of a family and arranging items for sale, McDaniel does what she calls “the catch.”
“I draw in my breath, and then I slowly exhale,” McDaniel said. “The longer I hold my breath, the more beautiful it is. I get a little dizzy.”
Ty McDaniel is an art, book and photography expert, McDaniel said. She handles the antiques. Together, they “feel the vibe” of the home to create a narrative before the sale.
“We like to call ourselves cultural anthropologists because we come into an estate and we put together a story that’s in the home so we can see this whole life,” McDaniel said.
The August estate sale will be one for the books, McDaniel said.
The Brazley home has an overwhelming amount of art throughout its seven rooms, and there are vintage handbags, watches and signed memorabilia from famous names like Peal Bailey to account for.
There’s always a soundtrack playing at the sales to convey the home’s essence, McDaniel said. Music from Jazz musician John Coltrane will guide guests at the Brazley sale.
As long as families continue to trust the McDaniels with their loved one’s belongings, there will be more sales in the days ahead, McDaniel said.
She and her husband aren’t stopping their work anytime soon.
“We want to continue doing this for the rest of our lives,” McDaniel said. “It’s our calling. We have to help people.”
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