Antiquing for Treasures
Brimming with historic buildings, preserved landmarks and antique treasures, the Greenbrier Valley is a rich hunting ground for most any connoisseur or collector of the past.
Within a 25 mile radius, nearly a dozen shops and flea markets overflow with furniture and primitives, books, collectibles, rare coins and notes, one-of-a-kind artifacts and just about any other form of memorabilia imaginable. Vicki Wilson, proprietor of Brick House Antiques, suggests staying in a central location for easy day-tripping. The Historic General Lewis Inn in downtown Lewisburg “is furnished in artifacts, and it’s just a block to downtown.” The inn is furnished with period antiques dating back to days of the early settlers.
A literal stone’s throw from Interstate 64, The Very Thing is chock full of the unexpected. Dan Bird, manager and willing “tour guide,” remarks with a crooked smile, “You never know what people will bring in.” Adorning his shop today… a pair of graceful-despite-their-large-size, iron “big birds.” Their story is a mystery, but they will make quite an impression wherever they take up residence. Other curiosities include a circa 1880 Parisian bistro set, hand-pump vacuum cleaner and a select number of heirlooms from The Greenbrier resort. There are more recent pieces by local artisans, discounted Fiestaware, primitives and just about anything else one might want to add to his or her collection.
If walls could talk, the Brick House Antiques building would have stories to tell. Much like the artifacts that fill its rooms, the “brick house” is something of a relic. Built in 1815 as a residence for John Withrow, it was later turned into a Red Cross center, then a restaurant, leather shop and ultimately the antique shop it is today.
Proprietor, Vicki Wilson, spends many of her days combing the Greenbrier Valley for antiques to sell. Twenty-three years on the hunt, she fills a unique roll – uncovering, and sometimes rescuing, and most certainly preserving the Valley’s many treasures and day-to-day-items-turned-antique.
Every room is filled -- silver to jewelry, locally made furniture, china, 19th-century political ribbons – just about anything of historical significance. One recent acquisition? Handmade banquet cloths from the personal collection of Hermann Rusch, the founder of The Greenbrier’s Culinary Apprenticeship Program.
Robert’s Antiques, Wine & Gourmet Shop is a different sort of antique shop. The Hamilton’s, Robert and Mary Jane, opened for business in 1990. Since then, it has passed to son, Robbie, with relatively lax oversight by Alex and Abby, the family Schnauzers. As for their collection of early 18th to late 19th century antiques, they come from all across the globe – mint-condition furniture, paintings, Chinese porcelain, crystal and pewter pieces to name a few.
In the front of the shop, they stock over 600 labels of wine, beer and champagne -- plus caviar, artisan cheese, foie gras, pate, smoked salmon and other delights. In the back, private wine-tastings and parties are held – an astute use of this unique and eclectic space.
Just off-the-beaten-path and across the Greenbrier River, Alderson’s Store in Alderson, WV has catered to the community for the last 128 years. First a general store and later women’s clothing, the original building was destroyed by fire in 1930. Relocating to “mid-town,” it was redesigned in the latest style of the day, now a vestige of the Art Deco movement. The exterior is embellished with low-relief designs, while the walnut display units, dressing rooms, showcases and tables made by The Georgia Show Case Co. of Montgomery, AL are still used today.
The store is stocked with a little bit of everything – old and new – trendy and unusual – antiques, keepsakes and collectibles. Even a few remaining pieces of unsold merchandise from its heyday. And of special interest to the Alderson family – just about anything made by or about West Virginians -- vintage souvenirs, centennial items, books, glass, postcards and especially that one-of-a-kind artifact you won’t find anywhere else.
This is just a sampling of the nooks, crannies and things you’ll uncover in the Greenbrier Valley. A complete list of antique shops and flea markets is detailed below. Happy hunting.
SHOPS IN THE GREENBRIER VALLEY: