In Warren, historic buildings and shops intertwine up and down streets George Washington once traveled on a visit to Rhode Island. One of the oldest communities in the state, Warren has a past that includes agriculture, shellfishing, boat building and textile manufacturing. Ever-evolving, the town has become a fertile hunting ground for antiquers and flea-market junkies. Zigzag about in search of treasures, old, vintage and new, to complete your home, and you’ll be surprised at what you find. A car or a bicycle—remember the East Bay Bike Path zips through—makes getting around easier. Here’s a sampling of worthwhile destinations to help you kick start your exploration:
Places to shop
1 Antique and Decorating Wherehouse, 160 Water Street, 245-2483. Two Gustavian-style armchairs in the window of this fashionable shop are only the tip of the iceberg. Customers are invited to wander up and down three floors as if they were weekend guests. In-house upholsterers make dreams (if only the fabric matched my dining room) come true. Hours: Wednesday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., evenings by appointment.
2 Marie King Antiques, at the Level Maxwell House, 382 Main Street, 245-1020. A brick house painted sky blue is magical to begin, but far better are the genteel offerings inside. Pristine antique linens for table or bed, baskets, and silver, for instance, may jostle an Asian-inspired commode. For less than $200, the last seemed a steal. Upstairs, a heartwarming stock of children’s books afford reason to come again. Hours (calling ahead is often wise): Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday noon to 4 p.m.
3 Imagine, 5 Miller Street, 245-4200, imaginegiftstores.com. A kaleidoscope of color and shapes, Imagine carries everything from dishtowels to dinnerware with lots in between like pretty Eucalyptus stoneware and polka-dotted Berryware. If your kitchen is in need of a quick lift, you’ve come to the right place. Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m to 6 p.m., Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
4 Wren and Thistle Antiques, 19 Market Street, 247-0631, wrenandthistle.com. Glass—from Vaseline to hobnail—and china abound, but a set of silver luster cups and saucers stand out. With tangerine-enameled interiors, these sophisticated vessels are the sort a hip Manhattan socialite might dole out after dinner. At the other end of the spectrum, homey jars and baskets of buttons reminded us of a great aunt. Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday noon to 4 p.m.
5 Distinctive Antiques and Local Artwork, 69 Market Street, 245-0431. Had we not stopped, we would have missed the fetching folding seamstress table for $60. Not jam packed like many of the other stops, this pleasant shop serves up a more edited array of goods. Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
6 Nancy’s Fancy Antiques and Collectibles, 436-438 Main Street, 245-5995. Amid the quirky jumble that spills from room to room, we spied a bear rug as well as iron doorstops, wicker and vintage jewelry (display it in silver bowls). Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
7 Yankee Consignment, 446 Main Street. Interesting old books that would not only look fabulous in the study but would also make a fine read. Beauty is in the object, the gurus tell us, and you never know where it might surface so take time to cruise the corners where things may pile up. Hours: By chance or by appointment.
8 Acktiques, 489 Main Street, 575-1111. The vintage sign or the Arts and Crafts-like vase tall as an umbrella that you’ll uncover at Acktiques would make a fabulous juxtaposition with all that traditional stuff your mom left you. Hours: Call ahead.
9 Thyme Flies, 76 Child Street, phone number unavailable. If you’re lucky enough to catch the proprietor in and the door open, you’ll find the dusty old building lends itself to the inventory—a casual mix: some wicker, some Victorian, an old dollhouse reminiscent of Tramp Art, Mission and more—but nowhere near enough to overwhelm. Hours: By chance.
10 Bradford Mercantile, 7 Cutler Street, 289-2102, bradfordmercantile.com. Shopkeeper Terry Stone has filled her airy building with country-flavored accoutrements, stunning wood bowls and appealing tin and stone garden appointments. Hours (with some variations during the holidays): Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday noon to 4 p.m.
11 Imago Gallery of Art and Fine Crafts, 16 Cutler Street, 245-3348. Some fourteen members and guest artists keep this cooperative gallery filled with photography, oil and ceramics. Hours: Tuesday through Saturday noon to 4 p.m.
12 Basically British Tearoom and Antiques, 16 Cutler Street, 245-0072, basicallybritish tearoom.com. Exactly what it promises: European style antiques and accessories along with a bounty of delicious fare. Hours: Monday and Wednesday through Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (closed Tuesday), dinner Friday and Saturday 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
13 Altamira Lighting, 79 Joyce Street, 245-7676, www.altamiralighting.com. Colorful and meticulously crafted lighting designs pour forth from this energetic company. Hours: Monday through Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
14 Pat Warwick, 30 Cutler Street, Suite 213, 247-0779. Warwick’s dazzling ceramic creations include items such as tables, mirrors and trays. Hours: By appointment.
15 Waterhouse Antiques, 845 Main Street, 245-0142. Removed from downtown but easy to find, this shop foregoes fussy glass and china for a well-edited array of larger treasures like blanket chests, drop leaf tables and cabinets. Hours: Daily noon to 5 p.m. but may vary; call ahead.
Places to refuel
16 Stella Blues, 50 Miller Street, 289-0349, stellabluesri.com. If you’re blessed with a golden afternoon, sit outside. Lunch ranges from salads and wraps to sandwiches. Hang around long enough, there’s dinner too. Tuesday through Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Sunday noon to 9 p.m.
17 Three Rivers, 267 Water Street, 289-2067. Even if the waterside setting weren’t so sweet, this popular eatery would rate for the quality of its breakfast, brunch and lunch offerings. Be warned: at peak times the wait for a table could be long. Hours: Wednesday through Sunday 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
18 Coffee Depot, 501 Main Street, 608-2553. A warm and cozy stop for the weary, the Depot (across from Delekta Pharmacy) is touted to be one of Rhode Island’s best java houses. Hours: Monday through Thursday 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. (6 a.m. to 10 p.m. when there’s live music), Sunday 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
In the neighborhood
19 Warren has its fair share of historical sites. The most interesting is the Maxwell House, 59 Church Street. Touted to be the oldest brick dwelling in the village, the working museum gives a good idea of life in the 1700s. Hours: Open for tours Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; call ahead to confirm. For more information: massasoithistorical.org. For more places of interest: discoverwarren.com.