A Daytrip to Putnam
The northeastern region of Connecticut is home to a treasure trove of antiques.
The northeastern region of Connecticut is known as the state’s “Quiet Corner,” but it’s anything but when it comes to antiques shopping. Sprinkled along the country roads and quaint main streets are shops filled with aged treasures just waiting to be unearthed. And one of the best spots to start is Putnam Antiques Marketplace. The place hosts more than 140 dealers — plus seventy more next door at sister store, Jeremiah’s — each with their own distinctive style. To help you navigate the 20,000-square-foot space, we dug for treasures in Putnam on a recent visit. But don’t take our word for it. According to co-owner, Rick Dwonczyk, the hunt is as much fun as the find: “You don’t come here to buy something that you need as much as buy something that you want.” Open daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Closed Tuesdays. 109 Main St., Putnam, Conn., 860-928-0442.
Collectors will be doing the happy dance upon entering the Marketplace and seeing rows of stand-up cases filled with small items from every era imaginable: Native American dolls, vintage toys and games, crystal brooches and even a case solely devoted to old milk bottles, are just a tiny sampling of what’s there. However, home-minded shoppers will quickly zero in on finds like Royal Worcester vases and dishes in yellow, green and cream; pink and green Depression-era glassware; and an array of silver by famed Newport silversmith Alfredo Sciarrotta. Lining the perimeter are larger items, including a Victorian sofa in eye-catching upholstery, a sturdy-looking oak buffet server, several wooden hall trees and a pair of sleek mid-century modern chairs by Jens Risom.
Head upstairs for loads of larger home goods. The front area features a center section filled with prints, including antique Rhode Island and New England maps and landmarks, florals, birds and fashion plates. Booths throughout hold a surprising variety: everything from a Civil War-era wooden trunk, a green and blue Wedgewood bridge set and copper cookware, to an 1890 African Kuba mask with feathered headdress and 1960s Herman Miller chairs. Just inside the Mezzanine, to the left, the Pink Room is filled with Arts and Crafts chairs, rockers and settees, both leather and upholstered, any one (or two) of which would be a masculine addition to a living room. And to the right, a room solely devoted to lamps: An aqua and gold pair with painted shades and two black and gold Hollywood Regency cherub lamps were just a few of the standouts. At the back of the Mezzanine, you’ll find 100-year-old Oriental rugs and a collection of vintage and antique wall clocks that aficionados will go cuckoo for.
The stairs at the rear of the Mezzanine lead up to the Marketplace’s top level, which houses a section of vintage clothing and shelves filled with dinnerware and kitchen tools, many of which would make for a one-of-a-kind wedding gift or dinner party addition. Exciting finds included rows of brass candlesticks in every size and style, and an assortment of pretty blue and white china. Collectors of retro styles will enjoy rooting through the Pyrex platters and Corningware cornflower casserole dishes, while those with a penchant for the traditional will appreciate the Myott Staffordshire Royal Mail collection in a black and white pattern.
Don’t leave without checking out the Marketplace’s lowest level. The shelves and racks hold loads of decorative items, including vintage glass Christmas ornaments that would make for neat gifts, books old and new — a 1932 copy of Nine Plays by Eugene O’Neill, perhaps? — cookie jars and ashtrays, coffee cans by every brand possible, a host of table runners and tablecloths, and a collection of woodworking tools that were equal parts decorative and utilitarian. And of course, no stash of vintage goods would be complete without the requisite Pez dispensers and box of buttons. Though this is the least organized of the floors, it’s also the one with the most variety of fun little finds. Here, you’ll scout around for that thing you never knew you needed. It’s an enjoyable way to spend part of your visit.
Just next door is the Marketplace’s sister store, Jeremiah’s, where vendors sell items that skew a little less serious than its antiques-hawking counterpart. Booths and cases are filled with colorful vintage memorabilia, nostalgia items, art and advertisements. Among the vintage toys, games and comics, there is also plenty for the home, including metal tool cabinets that would work well as storage for knickknacks, wooden crates, presidential bust bookends and road signs to add funky flair to any room. A mid-century modern dresser with eyelid pulls stood out for its clean lines, while a Boston terrier lamp would add a quirky touch to a side table. 26 Front St., Putnam, Conn., 860-963-2671
Putnam’s Main Street hosts several eateries, all within walking distance. For a quick caffeine boost, try Victoria Station Cafe. In addition to local Saccuzzo Coffee, Victoria Station has an impressive variety of pastries, as well as light lunch fare including quiche, soup and stuffed croissants. For something more substantial, just down the street, Crossings Restaurant and Brewpub offers a selection of house-brewed beers and bar food in a renovated train station.