Trinkets and chatchkas, vintage baubles and bone china—we all cherish some of yesterday’s treasures. And what better way to add on to them than to travel to a nearby locale, renowned for its cultural playgrounds, its fabulous dining spots, its picturesque terrain, and yes, miles upon miles of antiques! Welcome the Berkshires.
Larry and Carol Solomon, owners of charming Painted Porch Antiques in Sheffield, showcase their finds inside their home.
For those unfamiliar, the Berkshires is a region plunked smack dab into the voluptuous countryside of Western Massachusetts and cordoned off by both Connecticut and Albany, New York, and extending all the way north to the threshold of Southern Vermont. With the first spring blossoms peeking out from under the snow and the tattling foreshadow of the summer sun, now is the perfect time to head up for sublime antiquing opportunities.
Seasoned collectors and newbies alike can find a variety of places to rummage through, in search of everything from American clocks, 18th- and 19th-century glass and china, and estate jewelry to rare books, quirky folk art, and more. Whatever you fancy, this New England area is loaded with specialty dealers, all located within a relatively small geographic area.
Route 7, which runs through the region, is rightfully dubbed “Antique Alley”; countless specialty shops flank either side of it, offering plenty of possibilities for good old-fashioned treasure hunting. Wend your way up this major artery, veering off onto side streets as you go, to discover some of the less well-known spots. A great place to start is the Southern Berkshires town of Sheffield, home to the Berkshire County Antiques and Art Dealers Association, an organization with an impressive roster of at least 45 well-seasoned dealers.
Painted Porch Antiques, for example, is a great spot for English and French country furniture, complemented by authentic accessories from the 18th and 19th centuries. This shop’s proprietors, Larry and Carol Solomon, are antiques devotées, traveling abroad several times a year, in quest of specialty items. Their inventory is showcased right inside their home; they encourage browsers to wander about the rooms and then head out to the barn for last licks.
Just down the road is Cupboards & Roses, itself boasting fine 18th- and 19th-century painted European and Swedish furniture. Dealer Edith Gilson has spent a lifetime developing her passion for Swedish collections and confesses that her love for the antiques she buys sometimes puts her into quite a dilemma when it’s time to sell. “But there’s always another antique to romance around the corner,” she says—and notes that antiques are often inherently “green.” The recycling of wood furnishings means no trees have to be cut down.
Also located in Sheffield is Susan Silver Antiques, renowned for its museum-quality 18th- and 19th-century English and Continental formal furniture including tables, gilded mirrors, and chandeliers. Silver says, “The backs of a true antique show the patina, the structure, and the markings. You just can’t see that detail online.”
Find wicker pieces in Corner House Antiques, a two-story barn, owned by Thomas and Kathleen Tetro and totally devoted to antique wicker. “Wicker has a long and rich history and can be dated back to 1870,” Thomas says. “Pieces can range from the most basic utilitarian design to ornate and opulent with lots of detail.”
Martin and Kitty Jacobs of The Splendid Peasant specialize in 18th- and 19th-century American folk art. The couple encourage browsers to search among the finds in their grand loft in the woods. Should something grab their eye, you can be sure Martin will tell them the story behind it, with acuity and wit.
Just north, at the junction of Routes 7 and 23 in Great Barrington, sits a small cluster of antique stores: McTeigue & McClelland Jewelers, Mullin-Jones Antiquities, and The Kleinwald Gallery. Country Dining Room Antiques and Elise Abrams Antiques are stocked with rare finds and complete collections, both emphasizing tableware, porcelain, stemware, silver, and, of course, dining-room furniture. In the heart of downtown Great Barrington, check out Real Gustavian, stocked with authentic Swedish antiques and Gustavian furniture, mostly from the 18th and early 19th centuries. Owner Lani Sternerup has an extensive background in Swedish art and architectural history, so you can rest assured that her inventory is the real deal.
Point the car north on Route 7 and drive to Lenox, where Charles L. Flint Antiques sells Early American wares, folk art, blown glass, Revolutionary and Civil War items, and Norman Rockwell works. At Past and Future Antiques, proprietor Marcy Cohen also offers a wonderful collection of old perfume bottles, sewing accessories, china, and glassware. If you’re feeling ambitious, venture all the way up-county to Williamstown and check out Library Antiques for an eclectic collection of antiques, prints, folk art, jewelry, and rare books, and, on your way back home, hit the town of Southfield, where the Buggy Whip Marketplace awaits you, showcasing a whopping 20,000 square feet filled with antiques, books, furniture, and jewelry. Buggy Whip Antiques’ owners Hank Reeve and Neuma Agins-Reeve have devoted a portion of their shop to museum-quality sleighs and horse-and-buggy-related artifacts.
A Sampling of Berkshire County Antiques Dealers
Buggy Whip Antiques 208 Norfolk Rd, Rte 272, Southfield (413) 229-3576
Corner House Antiques Corner of Old Mill Pond Rd and Rte 7, Sheffield (413) 229-6627
Country Dining Room Antiques 178 Main St, Great Barrington (413) 528-5050
Cupboards & Roses 296 S. Main St, Sheffield (413) 229-3070
Elise Abrams Antiques 11 Stockbridge Rd, Rte 7, Great Barrington (413) 528-3201
Charles L. Flint Antiques 52 Housatonic St, Lenox (413) 637-1634
The Library Antiques 70 Spring St, Williamstown (413) 458-3436/(800) 294-4798
Painted Porch Antiques 102 S Main St, Rte.7, Sheffield (413) 229-2700
Past and Future Antiques 63 Church St, Lenox (413) 637-2225
Real Gustavian 313 Main St, Great Barrington (413-528-4440)
The Splendid Peasant 992 Foley Rd, Sheffield (413) 229-8800
Susan Silver Antiques Rte 7, 755 N Main St, Sheffield (413) 229-8169
Where to Stay
16 Blantyre Rd, Lenox
Tucked discreetly within the Berkshire Hills, this regal Tudor-style stone mansion sits amidst vast acreage complete with a heated pool, tennis courts, and manicured croquet lawns. And there’s also a new onsite spa.
169 Under Mountain Rd, Lenox
A 110-year-old Berkshire cottage, this inn stands beside a spring-fed duck pond on 10 country acres with magnificent trees, lawns, and forest. Enjoy top-shelf amenities, a full cooked-to-order country breakfast, wine and cheese in the late afternoon. Breakfast is served in the Creamery overlooking the pond or outside in the courtyard. Just divine.
The Red Lion Inn
30 Main St, Stockbridge
The Red Lion Inn has been welcoming travelers to the Berkshires for more than two centuries, offering 108 individually decorated guestrooms, elegant and casual dining, live entertainment nightly, a year-round heated outdoor pool and hot tub. It is a charter member of Historic Hotels of America.
Mepal Manor and Gedney Farm
34 Harstville New Marlborough Rd, New Marlborough
Sited on gently sloping lawns and surrounded by unspoiled wetlands, Mepal Manor affords a private “Old Berkshire” setting like none other. Built in 1906 as a family estate, Mepal Manor is a stately guest house with 12 guestrooms. The sister lodging barn at Gedney Farm, modeled after the great Normandy barns of 19th-century France, offers another option in turn-of-the-century lodging.
7 Hubbard St, Lenox
Built in 1767, this charming B&B lies secluded among white birches, stately oaks, and pines. Innkeeper Ellen Gutman-Chenaux exudes a warmth and hospitality, encouraging guests to enjoy her inn’s 18th-century library and parlor, read in front of a blazing fire, play a round of chess, or simply relax and dig into a scrumptious country breakfast.