Treasures of Antique Row
By ANDREA GRANAHAN
WEST COUNTY CORRESPONDENT
An antiques crawl is an entertaining way to spend a weekend afternoon, and there is no better place to crawl than Sebastopol’s Antique Row on Gravenstein Highway South. If you think of antiques as dusty furniture or fussy old glass and china, you are in for a surprise.
Everyone knows Sebastopol does things in a slightly different way, and antiques are no exception. On this crawl, prepare to meet Jar Jar Binks, honor the oceans’ tomb and see an electric chair in action.
Kathy’s Antique Furniture is the first stop, on Gravenstein Highway South just after South Main Street empties into it.
Kathy Minter has been in business 21 years, four at this location, and sells mostly European furniture from England and Scotland. Most of it is from the Art Deco period, but occasionally she acquires a piece she can’t resist, such as a 200-year-old Empire chest.
Kathy’s Antique Furniture, 810 Gravenstein Highway S, 823-9223, call for hours.
Next comes Trader Buck’s. There really is an (Edward) Buck, a retired San Francisco cop who got tired of being retired and opened the shop seven years ago. He and his business partner Ty Harrison like the odd and unique.
The first thing you see when you walk in the door is a bronze life-sized statue of two topless Egyptian ladies holding an urn. The price tag on the Paris-made piece is $12,000, but that’s not his most expensive piece. That would be a $14,000 solid marble huge Greek nude. Buck doesn’t care if they don’t sell.
“I used to have two Roman statues and after they sold, I was lonely until I acquired these,” he said, pointing to some very affordable 200-year-old European furniture pieces. “We sell high-end furniture for low-end prices.”
One piece of furniture he won’t sell is an antique electric chair with a dummy all strapped in, ready to roast.
Trader Buck’s, 1140 Gravenstein Highway S., 829-7722, is open daily.
A little farther down the road is the Antique Society. With between 100 and 125 dealers in the 22,000-square-foot building, it is the supermarket of antiques.
“We’ve got something for everyone, from mid-century furniture to whale harpoons. Men like to shop here,” said Judy Donatelli, a dealer and longtime employee. Moby Dick, here we come.
Antique Society, 2661 Gravenstein Highway S., 829-1733, is open daily.
Across the street is the nonprofit FFT Antiques, which raises money for the Food For Thought Food Bank and is exempt from collecting state sales tax.
They rent space to dealers who specialize in lots of things from mid-century furniture to Victorian jewelry, but they also sell their own donations.
“We never know what’s coming in,” said manager Allen Chivens. He is assisted by the store dog, Jack, who likes to wear pearl chokers.
The strip’s oldest items are here. They include some 200 BC Chinese Han dynasty statues someone donated, including funerary sheep that are just $75 each, and a larger fishmonger statue at $4,000.
FFT has a garden with rusted farm implements and a very odd tombstone that laments the death of the world’s oceans. It was made for Ramparts Magazine in the ’60s and comes complete with the magazine that featured it on the cover.
FFT Antiques, 2701 Gravenstein Highway S., 823-3101, is open daily.
Windmill Antiques earns its name. Outside there is a vine-covered Aeromotor windmill, the kind that won the West. This one doesn’t look like it’s prepared to pump any water soon.
The building used to be a piece of history itself. It was Jim’s Bar, a true Wild West thirst parlor. Billie Spencer and Ron Bell have been there 17 years, and they use the old bar to display some of their collection.
They carry lots of interesting furniture, including a child’s rolltop desk for $125.
“This is only the second one I’ve seen in all my years here,” Spencer said. She also is proud of her Native American jewelry, especially two spectacular antique squash blossom necklaces, but she will part with them for a price.
“If I don’t want to sell it, I keep it at home,” she said.
Windmill Antiques, 2830 Gravenstein Highway S., 823-7954, is open daily.
Ray’s Trading Co. is made for men. He carries antiques and salvage, meaning period doors, windows, hardware and a huge collection of old tools.
But don’t try to buy his huge elk antlers, the little cigar store Indian or any of the top row of his enameled metal old signs. They are not for sale. They are there for him to enjoy while he works.
His son is the songwriter and vocalist for Frobeck, so enjoy being serenaded while you prowl through doorknobs that are works of art.
Ray Burrows is semi-retired after 30 years in the business and is only open Thursday through Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 3570 Gravenstein Highway S., 829-9726.
Motley Treasures is the new kid on Antique Row, having been there just two years, owned by Denis Rioual. A 7-foot-tall replica of “Star Wars’” Jar Jar Binks greets you as you come in. Don’t even ask. He is not for sale.
You can’t predict what this whimsical shop will have, from an old barber’s chair to a hand-carved Australian didgeridoo to a huge statue of Chief Tawonka (he said, “I was free until I stopped fighting. Now no one has freedom”).
Motley Treasures, 3920 Gravenstein Highway S., 824-1907, closed Wednesdays
The last on Antique Row is the historic Llano House, once a stage stop. Ernie Haskell and Hilary Burton have been in business there for 30 years.
They specialize in American oak and Depression glass, but the shop holds some surprises as well. Our forbears loved cast iron, and a red painted hand pump will make some nostalgic.
Llano House is also home to a stupendous collection of cast iron banks. The Victorians were great savers and wanted their pence and pounds surrounded by enough cast iron to call it a safe. They are in all shapes and sizes, from dollhouses to bizarre animals.
Incidentally, Llano House has a huge furniture inventory off site in a 53-foot-long trailer and a 10-car garage, so if you don’t see what you want, just ask. They probably have it.
Llano House, 4353 Gravenstein Highway S., 829-9322, is closed Tuesday through Thursday.