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Home | Articles | Woodbury: Antiques Captial of ConnecticutÂȘ

by Frances McQueeney-Jones Mascolo

Picture a quintessential New England village with miles of pristine period homes surrounded by gorgeous countryside and you get Woodbury, Connecticut, an area that has attracted settlers since 1675.

Thomas Schwenke, Inc. occupies an eighteenth-century farmhouse.

While the town still holds on to its agrarian beginnings, it is better known today for antiques dealers and craftspeople. Situated in the southernmost part of Litchfield County, Woodbury boasts fifty-four antiques dealers, most of whom occupy historic buildings.

So how did it happen that so many fine antiques dealers came to have shops here? Transplanted mid-westerner Thomas Schwenke points to the fact that preservation is a very serious matter in Woodbury, enabling the town to retain its colonial charm. The eighteenth-century house he occupies, and the three barns he’s converted into one, provide an ideal setting for his extensive inventory of federal furniture.

David A. Schorsch, a second-generation specialist in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American antiques, painted furniture, folk art, and Shaker, is located at the historic Lamson-Hitchcock House that he renovated in 1996. Built about 1785, the home was lived in by generations of the Hitchcock family for 170 years.

David Dunton, a Philadelphian by birth and a collector since the age of twelve, discovered Woodbury when he was on a business trip thirty years ago. He relocated and made the transition to full-time antiques dealer specializing in Eastern seaboard pieces of the federal period as well as American, English, and French accessories.

The 1750 Marshall House is home to Wayne Pratt, Inc.
When Wayne Pratt and Marybeth Keene, a vice president of Wayne Pratt, Inc. for twenty-four years, established their business in the 1750 Marshall House ten years ago there were half as many dealers in town than today. “It’s a nice town to live in,” says Pratt, who began dealing at age seven. The firm, which also has a shop on Nantucket, offers high style New England furniture, folk art, and Windsor chairs.

About four years ago, Don Heller and Kim Washam of Heller Washam Antiques, who own a second gallery in Portland, Maine, established their business in a converted circa-1860 carriage house. “It has curb appeal,” says Heller of their by-appointment shop specializing in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American antiques. “People are always telling me that they were peeking in the windows and saw something of interest.”

Classical dealers Charles and Rebekah Clark came from Tennessee in 1997. Says Rebekah, “I love New England, I love Connecticut.” She extols the virtues of the Woodbury community, the parades, the fireworks, the sweeping green lawns, and the classic main street.

European decorative arts are also well represented in Woodbury, and many dealers, such as Bettina Krainen, at the Main Street Antique Center, offer both American and Continental antiques.

Garden antiques and accessories at Wayne Pratt, Inc.
Collectors are also drawn to Woodbury for specialists such as Norma Chick / Autumn Pond, known for Delftware and weathervanes, or the period French furniture offered by G. Sergeant Antiques, who also has American and English pieces.

Several historic house museums are open to the public. The 1750 Glebe House Museum boasts the only garden in America designed by English landscapist Gertrude Jekyll. The museum and garden will benefit from Barn Star Production’s much anticipated new outdoor Woodbury Antiques Fair at Three Rivers Park, June 14 and 15, 2003.

Come for the antiquing and enjoy such activities as fine dining, hot air ballooning, birding, hiking, canoeing and kayaking, rock climbing, tennis, golf, swimming and skiing; they’re all here, depending on your interests and the season.

For more on antiquing in the Woodbury area, visit www.litchfieldhills.com and www.antiqueswoodbury.com.

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