Locke-Ober auction underway, pieces of history up for sale

Locke-Ober in a 1995 Globe Staff file photo by Michael Robinson-Chavez.
Locke-Ober in a 1995 Globe Staff file photo by Michael Robinson-Chavez.

Ever wish you could own a piece of a famous restaurant like the venerable Locke-Ober in downtown Boston? Well you can today, in a way.

New owners who closed the 137-year-old restaurant in October are auctioning off the contents --- about 250 items --- on Friday, in part to defray the cost of renovating the space where a new restaurant will open next year.

About 80 people looked over items for sale at the restaurant’s location at 1-3 Winter St. early Friday. Another 60 others had registered for online bidding, available at pesco.com.

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Visitors got an early peak at the restaurant items before bidding began at 11 a.m. On a table near the main entrance, where a maitre d’ once greeted patrons, stacks of menus were piled high for visitors to look over. The main dining room was packed with people examining piles of old silverware, china, and glassware up for sale.

Locke-Ober was a famed dining destination for generations, serving guests who ranged from local business leaders to American presidents. Women weren’t allowing in the main dining room for nearly a century and the restaurant maintained its jacket-required dress code until 2011.

The new owners hope to raise at least $25,000 to $30,000 from the auction to help pay for the renovations.

“This is a step for us to get the building empty and get rid of the objects responsibly,” said James P. Robertson, one of the new owners. “Then we’ll be able to begin our exploratory demo and refine our plans.

A Globe story in October noted that Locke-Ober was a victim of changing times and real estate.