Greg Alexander

Let’s go antiquing!

Mason-Dixon Arrive, March 2004

There’s nothing quite like hitting the open road on a Saturday afternoon in the spring to escape the house and all of life’s responsibilities and demands. If you feel the need to escape your environs and have some cash that’s burning a hole in your pocket, why not hit the road in search of that one-of-a-kind find – whether it’s an exquisite fine piece of antique furniture from the 1800s or simply a small collectible that will make a great conversation starter in your home? Of course, you don’t have to actually buy something during your antique road trip; sometimes half the fun can be the search. Popping in small shops and perusing through larger antique malls and digging through the hundreds of offerings can be exhilarating.

As any experienced “antiquer” will tell you, it’s tough to go out one day and find exactly what you’re looking for – unless you’re pretty lucky. Instead, make a point to go out time and time again; sometimes you find just what you’re looking for when you least expect it. Antiques can be found in one of Maryland’s large antique malls, and you can also find great antiques in the small shops, so keep your eyes open. Also, some antique shops are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, while others are open seven days a week. Call ahead to make sure that they are open before you gas up the car and go.

So, where do you start? Maryland is blessed with miles and miles of antique possibilities, so in this issue, we’ll focus on some charming towns east of Route 97, which dissects Carroll and Howard Counties.


For starters, we’ll begin in Carroll County in the quaint town of Hampstead. Hampstead Movie House Mall has about 25 dealers with a variety of collections. One dealer has a terrific coin collection; another deals only in old stuffed bears. The usual good mix of “smalls,” as those in the know say, to gifts, antiques and collectibles are found here. Hampstead’s old Main Street has seen a recent revival with several good shops including The Potter’s Hand, Timeless Creations and the Jewelers Bench. Rusty’s Stars & Country Collectibles carries Tom Seely antique reproduction furniture, Lt. Moses Willard Lighting, primitive and country accent pieces. Jim and Mona Hutchins are delightful proprietors; relocating here from Oregon, they are now in their second year on Main Street. And, you must stop in Linens & Lace Tea Room, a quaint Victorian setting with lovely gifts as well.


After you’ve made your way through the Movie House Mall, get back in your car for a quick 10-mile drive over to Westminster via Routes 482 and 27. Once you pass Random House, keep your eyes out for the Westminster Antique Mall, one of the largest multi-dealer malls around. You’ll find an extensive array of fine period furniture and collectibles, Civil War and military collections, Rossville pottery and fine linens. The Westminster Antique Mall opened in 1994 and expanded three years later to accommodate its 150-plus vendors and is now the third-largest antique mall in Maryland. Make your way through its 33,000 square feet of space and delight in the variety of dealers offering magazines, prints, posters, sports memorabilia or dolls – while you enjoy the music overhead from the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s.

Take a break and grab a bite at the mall’s deli, which features warm and cold sandwiches, hot soups and sinful desserts in a 1950s theme, complete with diner-like red chairs and décor that pays homage to 1950s icons like James Dean. While contemplating a purchase decision, you can weigh the pros and cons on one of the mall’s comfortable benches.

While we’re this far west, we might as well go a bit further to Frizzleburg Antique Store on Route 832, the road to Taneytown. Set in a charming old country store, you’ll find collections of dolls, toys, furniture and jewelry.


Next, come back to Route 140 east toward Finksburg, only about 8 miles from Westminster. Head straight to A Real Find Antiques, which boasts a showroom that’s over 10,000 square feet and a knowledgeable staff with over 25 years of experience helping shoppers find their treasures. If you don’t see what you want, the staff will help locate it or pull from the store’s vast storage.

Patrick Pierce is an entertaining proprietor. He showers visitors with stories about the pieces in his shop, “I’ve been buying expensive things since 1970!” His stories run from his first marriage to philosophy to his charitable work. His mantra: Live with love; love what you live with.

With its huge warehouse, A Real Find is known for its collection of large pieces such as wardrobes, buffets, pier mirrors and large paintings. On any given day, there is a large assortment of mahogany bedrooms, dining room sets and chairs and china cabinets. You’ll also find handmade period pieces from the 1700s and 1800s, nightstands, mirrors, artwork, sterling silver, flatware, pottery and Waterford glassware. Appraisals, estate downsizing, estate liquidating and refinishing are also part of their services.


From A Real Find, take Route 140 to Route 91 to Route 32 to Historic Sykesville, which has several shops worth the trip. First of all, make sure you get to Historic Sykesville, down at the bottom of the hill. With the recent development of retail and shopping centers along Route 26 in Eldersburg, it’s easy to get distracted! Most of the shops are located right on Main Street, including All Through the House, Alexandra’s Attic, Finders Keepers and Antiques & Stuff. Sykesville also is the home to the Sykesville Colored Schoolhouse (located off Main Street on Schoolhouse Road), a 1903 schoolhouse that is being restored as part of the Save America’s Treasures program.

If you plan your trip around a meal, don’t miss the award-winning Baldwin Station in the historic 1883 restored train station overlooking the Patapsco River. They offer terrific meals, entertainment and easy access to all the shopping!

Ellicott City

Back in the car, everyone! From Sykesville, let’s jump back on Route 32 to I-70 east to exit 82, Route 40, in order to make our way to historic Ellicott City in Howard County. But first, let’s stop at a few consignment shops worth the effort.

Consignments Unlimited will be on your right just where Frederick Road meets Baltimore National Pike. Leslie Fraley has a variety of collectibles and some unusual items for the garden or porch. Then, continue east on Baltimore National Pike and stop at the Porch Swing, a terrific shop with a lot of new merchandise at reasonable prices. It is deceptively large, so pace yourself to allow enough time to take it all in!

We’re finally at Historic Ellicott City’s Main Street, which could take a day within itself, as countless shops will lure you in like Ellicott’s Country Story, Taylor’s Antique Mall and Caplan’s Antiques & Auction Co., which has been in business since 1895. Several small, privately owned antiquers are here as well, with more focused collections like jewelry, Victorian and vintage clothing.

Savage Mill

If you make your way back to Route 32 and head south on Route 1, you’ll find yourself heading toward Savage Mill, which has over 225 dealers and 40,000-plus square feet to keep you busy. Located in a historic 1820s textile mill, Savage Mill has fine furnishings, collectibles, jewelry, arts, crafts and decorative accessories from many different periods, including Arts & Crafts, Art Deco and the Victorian era. Stroll though the different buildings that are named in conjunction with the mill’s textile history – Old Weave, New Weave, Spinning, Carding and the Cotton Shed, which includes the International Antiques Design Center and Gaines McHale Antiques, known for its fine European antiques. Gaines McHale opened its second location at Savage Mill last summer to add to its flagship location in Baltimore.

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