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Antiques Alley

by Kathryn Boughton

From Kent CT to Lanesborough MA, Route 7 wanders through some of the most historically significant towns in New England. History is rife in the architecture, museums, art and antiques—especially antiques. Known unofficially as Antiques Alley, the towns offer a continuing parade of antiques shops of varying seriousness.

Sheffield MA is one of the most historically important of the towns. It was here that the Sheffield Resolves were written, presaging the Declaration of Independence in many of their sentiments by two years and here that Theodore Sedgwick took on the case of Mum Bett, eventually putting an end to slavery in Massachusetts.

The town seems to revel in its antiquity. Pound for pound, it has more antiques shops—19 of them--than any other town nearby. Many of these shops specialize in American antiquities; others have an international flair. Some sell the quirky and collectible; others purvey elegance and costly artifacts. All offer a glimpse of life in the past.

It is impossible to mention each of the stores located along Antiques Alley, but here is a sampling:

Painted Porch at 102 South Main Street (413-229-2700), specializes in country antiques. Owners Larry and Carol Solomon search England and France for unusual antique pieces, bringing back classics, such as a Welch pine cabinet dating to the beginning of the 19th century or whimsical accessories such as mid-19th-century hat blocks used in France to mold hats.

Cupboards & Roses at 296 South Main Sreet (413-229-3070), seeks inspiration for its patrons in the stylish, sinuous forms of Swedish furniture, which combine so tastefully with the warmth of painted finishes. Distinctive tall case clocks, Swedish folk art, Gustavian furniture all can be found here. Owner Edith Gilson opened her shop in 1989 and still has the passion of the collector.

Farther north on Route 7, one finds the eponymous Susan Silver Antiques,755 North Main Street (413-229-8169). The owner, a former New York interior designer, discovered a passion for English and Continental antiques. She shifted career directions, opening a shop specializing in 18th- and 19th-century Georgian and Regency furniture and accessories. She also looks for cleverly designed and beautifully made military campaign furniture.

Looking for something funkier—and more affordable? Only a couple of miles farther north is Berkshire Great Finds at 840 North Maine Street (413-528-8059), a compendium of kitsch sure to strike a nostalgic note somewhere in everyone’s soul. The store provides a huge variety of antique, vintage, collectible and unique tins, toys, glass, pottery, garden stuff, furniture, farm tables, marbles, paintings, postcards, and more.

Meet the lazy, hazy days of summer with period American antique wicker furniture from Corner House Antiques, Route 7, (413-229-6627). A two-story barn houses an extensive collection of antique wicker sets in all styles, as well as individual antique wicker couches, chairs, rockers, chaise lounges, tables, desks, planters and wicker accessory pieces.

Kuttner Antiques, 576 Sheffield Plain (413-229-2955), specializes in American 18th- and 19th-century furniture, both high country and formal, painted and unpainted, with a special emphasis on figured woods such as tiger maple. Tables, chairs, settees, chests, corner cupboards, blanket chests, and more, in styles ranging from William & Mary to Federal, are found here, as are 18th- and 19th century art.

Samuel Herrup Antiques at 116 Main Street (413-229-0424), seeks to buy the best possible examples of any given particular period, based on aesthetics, condition, and authenticity. Sam and Sally Herrup enjoy working with collectors interested in building specific collections and people furnishing homes with antiques. The offerings include examples of American folk art, Chinese export and ceramics, European and British art and ceramics, and needlework, as well as examples of American Queen Anne, William & Mary and Federal furniture.

For many more antique dealers, please visit BerkshireStyle Antiques