Hot On the Antiques Trail

We go in search of 10 very different emporiums you might have overlooked.

By Jessica Leshnoff - December 2009

Hot On the Antiques Trail

We go in search of 10 very different emporiums you might have overlooked.

By Jessica Leshnoff - December 2009

-Photography by Bryan Burris

All summer you gardened. And you mowed.

Then came fall, and there was the raking (and a little more mowing). Now winter is finally upon us, and with it, a chance to take a deep breath and evaluate what's inside our homes instead of outside of them.

For some of us, a trip to IKEA will do. For others, a trip back in time is the only way to go. If you love antiques, Baltimore's a great place to be, and now's the perfect time to set out for a cozy weekend of antiquing.

But with the toll the recession has taken on shopowners large and small, where are Baltimore's coolest antique haunts today? We scouted out a sampling of the very best antique shops the region has to offer, from classic to kitsch, from tiny to warehouse-sized. So pack a lunch and grab a thermos—you're going to be out a while.

If you love antiques, have a lot of space to fill, and the budget to fill it, there's a good chance the Antique Center at Federal Hill (1220 Key Hwy., 410-625-0182) will get the job done in one fell swoop. Tucked along Key Highway on the edge of Federal Hill, the 10,000-square-foot facility is less of a shop and more of an über-classy warehouse, full of 18th, 19th, and early 20th century Continental, English, and American furniture and accessories. It's easy to see why the place has become a favorite among both Baltimore and Washington, D.C., designers. Not only is the selection fantastic, but shoppers have ample space to step back and evaluate items from afar in homelike settings. Once you discover where it is, you might just kick your antique-loving self for not finding it earlier.  

Hampden's Antique Exchange (3545 Chestnut Ave., 410-532-7000, proves that there's a huge gray area when it comes to antiques. And sometimes that gray area isn't gray at all—it's fuchsia. Or covered in zebra print. It's fitting that the shop—on the A-list of Baltimore's in-the-know antique addicts for more than 25 years—made its new home in the quirky Hampden neighborhood after years in Roland Park. Husband and wife duo Tom and Wesley Finnerty renovated the former row home into a chic venue that mixes old with new—from stately antique arm chairs and blue-and-white porcelain to bold-print throw pillows and cutting-edge lighting fixtures—while keeping it warm and cozy, complete with lush oriental rugs underfoot and the combined scent of its many soy-based candles. If you've ever wondered what it'd be like to throw a little 1909 into your 2009, this shop is a must-see. 

Since its July move from Roland Park to Mt. Washington, loyal customers of C.H. O'Malley Antiques (1501 Sulgrave Ave., 410-466-0606, have called on their cell phones from the old location, panicked about the shop's whereabouts. And why wouldn't they be? O'Malley's pristine collection of American, English, and Continental antiques is enough to get any red-blooded antique lover's pulse speeding. The new location, neatly tucked into Mt. Washington Village (in the former McCafferty's restaurant space), has nearly doubled the showroom size, allowing more room to maneuver and ample sunlight to admire the shop's sparkling restoration work. Customer service provided by proprietor Charlene O'Malley and sister Deborah Balog can't be beat. In fact, if you tell them what you like, they'll e-mail you photos of things in that genre. Who does that anymore?

If Urban Outfitters had an antique/vintage offshoot, it would be the Curiozity Shoppe. The longtime Reisterstown vendor, which is moving uptown this month (to two locations in Timonium, 2141 Greenspring Dr., 410-833-3434, and 75 W. Timonium Rd., 410-828-1870,, has been a funky neighborhood favorite for years, known as much for its uniquely spelled name as for its  friendly sampling of garden-ready, wrought-iron items and stone statues and fountains displayed out front. Inside is a rustic collection of antique and vintage furniture (American, European, and a splash of Asian) with the erstwhile vintage sign or door thrown in. While more polished, the new Timonium venues still have the same flair of the original Reisterstown spot, just in a more homey environment. Inventory changes weekly at both locations and things tend to sell off quickly, so if you've got your eye on something, act fast.   

There are antique lovers and then there are antique lovers: those who will travel to the ends of the earth for that one perfect piece. For more than 20 years, Philip S. Dubey, owner of three-floor, 3,000-square-foot Dubey's Art & Antiques (807 N. Howard St., 410-383-2881, has specialized in satisfying diehard antique lovers on Baltimore's famed Antique Row. Endlessly passionate about his collection of early American furniture and Chinese export porcelain (he's been collecting it since high school), Dubey is a walking antique encyclopedia. Five years ago, he expanded his business to the 10,000-square-foot space next door, opening the Antique Row Stalls, a multi-dealer antique cooperative. Between the two spaces, it's like walking into a museum. Be prepared to stay a while. 

If you're an antique fan who's up for a 20-minute ride and fancies some Christmas cheer, Glencoe Gardens (15900 York Rd., Sparks, 410-472-2300) will definitely fit the bill. Set back from a northern York Road that's worlds away from the York Road of Timonium 10 miles south, the three-level shop is decidedly casual, with a pebble-covered front walkway, a cat often perched in one of its many front windows, and a floppy-eared dog that skedaddles when you walk through the door. This time of year, locals visit the 6,000-square-foot store for more than just antiques, as Glencoe Gardens is transformed into a winter wonderland offering decorative greens out front (all grown on site) and a front room devoted solely to Christmas decorations. But don't let the seasonal slant fool you; husband and wife proprietors Wiley and Colby Hawks have filled the large space top to bottom with antiques large (desks, grandfather clocks) and small (an impressive collection of vintage McCormick containers and products) and will be delighted to give you the grand tour. 

It's hard to pinpoint the very best thing about Westminster's decidedly eclectic Sidetracked Antiques and Design (10 E. Main St., Westminster, 410-857-4455). Perhaps it's the way vivacious proprietor Patty Keener mixes the old with the new, displaying both apparel and jewelry (vintage and new) with two centuries of American and English furniture (all of it for sale). Or the way you can try on your soon-to-be new accessories in front of your choice of antique mirrors (also for sale). Or maybe it's the cozy shop's narrow brick building, an antique in and of itself. (It sits only steps away from the historic town's train tracks, which rumble with passing locomotives at least twice a day.) Since the shop is set back from Westminster's cutesy Main Street, don't be surprised if you have trouble finding the place. Keep your cell and Sidetracked's phone number handy, and Keener will gladly guide you there.  

With its high ceilings and strings of all-season white lights, it's easy to feel immediately at home at Things You Love Antiques and Gifts (234 Main St., Reisterstown, 410-833-5019). Housed in a charming historic log cabin on old Reisterstown's main drag, the warm greeting of owner Maggie Herman will make you want to take your time and peruse her two-floor collection of furniture, china, photos, prints, and new and vintage jewelry. Herman favors 1940s style, but always offers a good sprinkling of late 19th century items as well. There's no pressure to be an expert here, and she encourages visitors to get up close and personal with her merchandise, including her popular and ever-changing collection of 1940s hats (a favorite among teen girls and twentysomethings). The best part? You can buy a baby blanket or puffy white bathrobe—or anything you bring in, for that matter—and, in many cases, have it monogrammed by Herman while you shop.

Antiquers can be so serious. But if you're looking for a good time, try Tina's (237 Main St., Reisterstown, 410-833-9337). Set among old Reisterstown's small-but-eclectic antique row, the spacious shop's friendly hodgepodge will pique the interest of collectors, fashionistas, and antique newbies alike. A large glass case displaying a sparkling assortment of antique and estate jewelry greets shoppers at the front of the unexpectedly spacious store, which features pretty much everything, from classy (glassware, brass and copper kettles, Judaica, beaded pocketbooks) to kitsch (lady head vases, ashtrays, toys, and one very giant velvet Elvis). "There's literally everything here," says manager Lynne Waranch, who's always happy to show visitors around Tina's collection. "We just like to have a good time."

With its bare-bones, corrugated metal façade, the Westminster Antique Mall (433 Hahn Rd., Westminster, 410-857-4044, doesn't dress to impress. But don't let its barren exterior deceive you. With a whopping 165 antique dealers selling their diverse wares, the 25,000-square-foot facility is the Home Depot of antiquing. From the ornate to the kitschy, the mall has more than enough to satisfy both casual and serious collectors, and features an impressive array of, well, pretty much everything, including coins, glassware, sports memorabilia, pottery, furniture, and military antiques. During special weekend events (schedule varies) you can also get free appraisals, watch chair-weaving demonstrations, or enjoy on-site doll repair. If you need a breather, stop for refreshments at the mall's cute seated vending corner.

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-Photography by Bryan Burris

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