Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Mississippi is Dripping with Antique Stores

That's not unusual, though,  since there are antiques all across the country...

While it's true that every part of the country has  a history behind it, some areas of the country are a little more attuned to their past, their historic homes, and the antiques that go in them.

This is an interior shot famous mansion in
Columbus, MS, called Riverview. It's in
the same neighborhood as my house!
My partner is the one who got me interested in old houses and by extension antique furniture, so when I felt I needed a few pieces of furniture to fill in the gaps in a couple of rooms, I decided that I would visit antique stores, first, and if I found something I thought might be nice, I sent him a picture of it, for his opinion. And because of this hunt, I soon found myself discovering just how many antique stores there are in this area of Mississippi, one of the richest in history, as far as antebellum houses and later, Victorian and Craftsman. Columbus was lucky it was not destroyed by Sherman on his march through the South, as he burned whole towns to the ground. Columbus, Mississippi was saved, because it was a hospital town that treated wounded from both the North and the South, and the Union commanders just didn't have the heart to destroy it. This is a story that runs all through Mississippi, however, and because of it, the state has a lot of historic homes—and the antiques to go in them. A good place to start is the Mississippi Antiques Trail website. Sure, there will be stores that are no longer open listed on this site, but I found it extremely useful.

As my finances improve and I continue to get settled into my Victorian Cottage, here are just a few towns within 30 miles or less from Columbus that have antique stores:

Aberdeen, pop. 5,432
Amory, pop.7,107
Caledonia, pop. 1,027
West Point (the Mississippi West Point), pop. 11,093
Starkville, pop. 24,886
Macon (this Mississippi Macon), pop. 2,647

And a fun fact about antique stores is that they usually take you into historic parts of any town. The store owners, of course, go for places where the rent is less costly, so when you're antiquing, you're also treated to areas of town that are old and funky and fun.

Yes, almost every town of any size in any state probably has an antique store, so that's nothing new or unique, but I do think that southerners above all others still hold their historic homes in high regard. They can be renovated to have all the modern features, but  they don't ruin the houses by gutting their character...no glass brick showers in a house that's over 150 years old, no destruction of the winding staircases to replace it with some "hip" and modern metal thingy. A fully restored historic house here is truly like walking back in time, even though it's got new wiring, updated kitchens and bathrooms, and will house flat-screen TVs and Internet services, etc. Even the famous and beautiful Waverly Mansion (daily tours) hides a flatscreen TV in one of the bedrooms occupied by one of the family members)

This is the picture I sent my partner from my phone taken at
the antique store,
which caused him to faint. The medallions are metal with
engraved images.
So, on my second trip to the same antique store where I had bought an antique dining set including four chairs (which were in great shape with a beautiful finish), I found a 1920s/1930s serving cabinet, which turns out to be a Neo-Classical, Post Deco design. I sent a picture of it to my partner. He fainted and then sent me several questions about it and told me what to look for—and then he fainted again when I told him all they wanted was $125.00.

Even modern, brand new homes in the South are often built in classical Southern styles and, hence, real antiques will easily fit into them without appearing to jump out at you at their appearance. And as clever designers know, real plants can be supplemented with fake plants, and the casual eye will never guess. The same can be said of antiques, living side-by-side with new furniture. The only modern piece of furniture I have in my house is my bed.

Cliff Schlothauer, an award-winning designer and home renovator also says that with antiques and old houses, you should avoid keeping the same style of furniture throughout the house, which gives the home an antiseptic look and feel. Instead, you can have an eclectic mix of periods of furniture styles, getting away with adding Chinese antique cabinets with neoclassical furniture. Old paintings, which don't have to be expensive, also add a certain charm to a room.

So part of the fun of following the antiques trail in and around Columbus is finding just the right piece to complement a room with a blank area.

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