Leg­endary Philly mayor’s stuff for sale, billy club in­cluded

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - The As­so­ci­ated Press

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 tuxe­do­clad 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.”


Items for sale sit in the Philadel­phia home of late Philadel­phia Mayor Frank Rizzo. The loved and loathed for­mer Philadel­phia mayor’s house is for sale, and so is just about ev­ery­thing in­side, from his billy club and Rolodex, to Ital­ian-made fur­ni­ture and a signed pic­ture of Richard Nixon.


This photo shows the ba­ton car­ried by the late Philadel­phia Mayor Frank Rizzo.

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