Fall 2013 A&E Guide: Memories of yesteryear

Couple collects toys, cars, radios from childhood and beyond in historic Salisbury home featured on OctoberTour next month

Steve Warren and Mike Grasso (l-r) have antique collections spanning their two homes in California and Salisbury.

Steve Warren and Mike Grasso (l-r) have antique collections
spanning their two homes in California and Salisbury.

For Mike Grasso and Steve Warren, collecting is a life-long passion. The couple, now married and who met nearly 17 years ago at a Great Autos of Yesteryear event in California, have spent years gathering items that represent their passions and interests. Among them, is a collection of antique cars.

“We started out with cars,” Grasso, 60, says of himself and husband, 58. “When he was in high school, his first car was a ‘29 Chevrolet. When I was growing up, my parents had antique cars, and I got into the hobby through them. I’ve just kept going with it. I have what was my mother’s car. Steve had a Town and Country, and our collection has grown since then.”

But, it’s the collection of antique toys, pottery, radios, posters and other items that most will see when their Salisbury home is showcased next month in the Historic Salisbury Foundation’s Annual OctoberTour, Oct. 12-13, a tour of 14 historic homes and sites, of which qnotes is a media sponsor this year.

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Grasso, 60, and Warren, 58, spend time in Salisbury where Grasso works. They also have a home in California. Both houses are stocked with items as interesting as they are varied.

Toys dating from Steve Warren’s childhood and earlier bring charm to their collection.

Toys dating from Steve Warren’s childhood and earlier bring charm to their collection.

“Steve likes to collect the toys of his childhood,” Grasso says. “We started collecting antique toys and, of course, we have a lot of car memorobilia and posters. I’ve always liked collecting antique electronics and have a lot of old radios.”

Most of those radios — and at least one phonograph in the collection — still work or have been repaired. “About 80 percent” are functional, Grasso estimates.

“The collection has just morphed into a little bit of anything that looks interesting,” Grasso adds.

In October, the couple will have a chance to show off not only their collection, but also their home, the Tankersley-Tatum House. Built in 1902, the Queen Anne-style home was built by the Tankersley Family and later occupied by the Tatums. Walter Tatum was a traveling salesman for Wallace and Sons and also served as the vice president of Salisbury Bank and Trust Company. The home later became a duplex, or some speculate, and a bevy of young couples occupied the dwelling through the mid-20th century.

Original classic film art work fills their home.

Original classic film art work fills their home.

In 2007, the home came into the hands of Grasso and Warren.

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“We were coming to Salisbury pretty regularly to visit friends of ours in our other car clubs we belong to,” Grasso says. “We ended up deciding [to buy a home] here in Salisbury so we could be with our friends and enjoy activities with them.”

Previous owners had kept the home in great shape, he says. “It was move-in ready. We didn’t have to do a thing to it,” Grasso says.

The couple filled the home with their treasured items, but Grasso says their collecting passion is more personal than for historical purposes.

“We don’t look at it as historical preservation for future generations,” Grasso says. “It’s just for own enjoyment.”

He adds, “We’ve often said that when we die, we’d really love to go to our own estate sale. We have such interesting stuff!” : :

Their historic home in North Carolina  contains personal treasures and passions like antique radios.

Their historic home in North Carolina
contains personal treasures and passions like antique radios.

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.