New This Month

On the Hunt

Martha Stewart Living, August 2008

Some travelers trace the history of a place through its architecture. Others get the backstory by focusing on food, while still others study its art. For collectors, the obvious path is through local antiques shops, where stacks of pottery, walls of quirky wire objects, and piles of homespun linen offer lessons in a towns history. This is just one of the advantages of spending a weekend browsing on foot rather than online. The other benefits depend on where you go.

In bucolic Bucks County, Pennsylvania, there are short drives along rural roads from one small town to the next. In Houston, antiquing means strolling along a handsome boulevard and exploring a neighborhood filled with artists, writers, and musicians. U.S. 101 winds through small Northern California towns teeming with character. Whether you're looking for classic Americana, Arts and Crafts, or mid-century modern, each of these three vastly different regions has something distinct to offer -- and teach.

The Lone Star State's largest metropolis has had a love affair with all things Gallic since the Mexican-American War, when France offered diplomatic support. In the Museum District, adjacent to downtown, more than 25 dealers are happy to oblige. At Skelton-St. John, Continental furnishings are arranged like sculptures in a spare 6,000-square-foot space. Garden furniture and accessories are Bill Gardner's (no kidding) specialty. At M. Naeve, the young owner purveys pristine architectural antiques. The Heights District, 15 minutes away, has a more bohemian vibe. Heights Station, an 1895 carriage barn, bursts with the contents of many attics. Farther off the beaten path is Installations Antiques, a more than 100-year-old warehouse and work space where Becki and Jur van der Oord display European primitives, glass, and irresistible objects from Jur's native Netherlands.

Marin and Sonoma Counties
Even intrepid antiquers wait for the weekend to make the 50-mile drive along U.S. 101 from California's Marin County to western Sonoma County. When the commuter traffic subsides, the road becomes a series of tempting turnoffs to the movie-set-worthy main streets of San Anselmo, San Rafael, Petaluma, Sebastopol, and Graton.

At the shops in these towns, bright colors predominate, and the slant is often toward salvage. Antiques Legacy, a co-op of more than 40 booths in an old garage, and the Modern i 1950s Shop are two of 130 dealers in San Anselmo. Yankee Girl Antiques, in the towns 1930s movie theater, is like an endless estate sale. In Petaluma, a 30-minute drive north, almost two dozen emporiums span Petaluma Boulevard, including Chelsea Antiques, two floors of European furnishings that are a favorite of virtually every San Francisco decorator. Farther north, in Graton, is Mr. Ryder and Company, with dozens of vendors operating from an old post office.

Bucks County
This 607-square-mile swath of southeastern Pennsylvania was once home to Broadway's brightest (Oscar Hammerstein II and Moss Hart) and the country's antiques capital. The area, with Lambertville and Frenchtown, New Jersey, across the Delaware River, remains rife with shops. In Kintnersville, Gristies, a former stone gristmill, is a three-story trove of household treasures. In Frenchtown is the funky Brooks Antiques, run by mother-daughter duo Dorothy and Abby. New Hope, a 25-minute drive south, features more than a dozen shops, including Ingham Springs, where furnishings from the 18th and 19th centuries are displayed in a hushed setting. Farther west, in Lahaska, are jam-packed Bucks County Antiques Center and Marion Robertshaw's array of museum-quality American folk art.

The sheer density of antiques stores in these areas makes them ideal for a weekend of intense shopping. Here are a dozen or so of our favorites in each. For more great antiquing towns, click here.

Adkins Architectural Antiques
Specialty: Architectural salvage and garden decor
3515 Fannin Street
Houston, TX 77004

The Antiquarium
Specialty: Antique prints, maps
3021 Kirby Drive
Houston, TX 77098

August Antiques
Specialty: New England and New York antiques
803 Heights Boulevard
Houston, TX 77007

Specialty: Vintage lighting and European teaching charts
2940 Ferndale Street
Houston, TX 77098

Carl Moore Antiques
Specialty: European, English, French, and Chinese antiques
1610 Bissonnet Street
Houston, TX 77005

David Lackey Antiques
Specialty: Regional art of the 19th and 20th centuries and fine ceramics
2311 Westheimer Road
Houston, TX 77098

Heights Station
Specialty: Antiques from primitive to formal and collectibles
121 Heights Boulevard
Houston, TX 77007

Installations Antiques
Specialty: European primitives and American classics
611 West 22nd Street
Houston, TX 77008

Kay O'Toole Antiques
Specialty: Continental antiques
1921 Westheimer Road
Houston, TX 77098

Maison Maison
Specialty: 18th- and 19th-century French and Italian antiques
2129 Westheimer Street
Houston, TX 77098

M. Naeve
Specialty: 18th- and 19th-century Swedish and French antiques
1926 Bissonnet Street
Houston, TX 77005

Skelton-St. John
Specialty: 17th- to 20th-century European antiques
2143 Westheimer Road
Houston, TX 77098

W. Gardner
Specialty: Garden furniture
2930 Ferndale Street
Houston, TX 77098

Marin and Sonoma Counties
Antiques Legacy
A medium-size multidealer co-op
204 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard
San Anselmo, CA 94960

Antique Society
A large multidealer co-op
2661 Gravenstein Highway South
Sebastopol, CA 95472

Aurora Gallery
Specialty: Antique furniture
306 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard
San Anselmo, CA 94960

Chelsea Antiques
Specialty: Furniture and decorative items
148 Petaluma Boulevard North
Petaluma, CA 94952

The Custom House
Specialty: Fine furnishings
1550 Tiburon Boulevard
Tiburon, CA 94920

Laurel House Antiques
An elegantly curated consignment shop with tabletop items, Asian antiques, and jewelry
30 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard
Ross, CA 94957

The Modern i 1950s Shop
Specialty: Estates of mid-century artists and architects
500 Red Hill Avenue
San Anselmo, CA 94960

Mr. Ryder and Company
A co-op of more than 10 dealers
9040 Graton Road
Graton, CA 95472

Oveda Maurer Folk Art Antiques
Specialty: American folk art and early-American furniture
34 Greenfield Avenue
San Anselmo, CA 94960

The Pavillion Antiques
A large multidealer co-op focusing on furniture and accessories
610 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard
San Anselmo, CA 94960

Ray's Trading Company
Specialty: Antiques, salvage, old tubs, doors, and windows
3570 Gravenstein Highway South
Sebastopol, CA 95472

Yankee Girl Antiques
Specialty: American country furniture, wicker, and linens
328 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard
San Anselmo, CA 94960

Bucks County Area
Antique Haven
A small co-op full of 19th- and 20th-century tabletop items
1435 Easton Road
Durham, PA 18039

Antiques On Union
A medium-size multidealer shop
32 North Union Street
Lambertville, NJ 08530

Broadmoor Antiques
A multidealer shop
6 North Union Street
Lambertville, NJ 08530

Brooks Antiques
Specialty: Country and folk art
24 Bridge Street
Frenchtown, NJ 08825

Bucks County Antique Center
Specialty: Americana, folk art, and fine country furniture
5791 Old York Road (U.S. 202)
Lahaska, PA 18931

David M. Mancuso Antiques
Specialty: Early-19th- to mid-20th-century furniture
6075 U.S. 202 and Upper Mountain Road
New Hope, PA 18938

G. Evans Antiques
Specialty: High-quality furnishings and accessories from the 18th century to the present
8 Bridge Street
Lambertville, PA 08530

An old three-story mill filled with an eclectic mix
9730 Easton Road (Route 611)
Kintnersville, PA 18930

Ingham Springs
Specialty: 18th- and early-19th-century furniture
6319 Lower York Road
New Hope, PA 18938

Katy Kane
Specialty: Vintage clothing
34 West Ferry Street
New Hope, PA 18938

Marion Robertshaw
Specialty: Americana and folk art
Lahaska Antique Court
Route 202
Lahaska, PA 18912

The People's Store
A co-op with a wide variety
28 North Union Street
Lambertville, NJ 08530

Riverview Antiques
Specialty: 18th- and 19th-century furniture and glass
1738 River Road
Upper Black Eddy, PA 18972

Comments Add a comment