Through the years Atlanta has lost several magnificent landmarks, including
Loew's Grand, the theater where "Gone With the Wind" premiered in
1939, and Terminal Station, an elegant turn-of-the-century railroad station,
on the city's relentless path toward gleaming new progress. Maybe fortunately
for those interested in antiques and history, however, the contents of
long-gone plantations and civic and commercial enterprises were often saved,
and savored, by collectors.
Atlanta has an incredibly large and varied array of antique shops,
festivals, and open markets. The month of May kicks off the summer season for
some of the largest outdoor antique markets, usually held once a month, but
only one metro festival will be open during APA's annual meeting. Here's an
insider's guide to some of the city's best offerings:
Advertising itself as the largest antique area in the Southeast, Chamblee's
Antique Row District is a compact array of 350 dealers in more than 20 stores,
all within strolling distance. Each place has its own specialty—from The
Way We Were's D.R. Dimes' Windsor chairs, 18th-century furniture, and
blue-and-white porcelains to Townsend Fine Antique Clocks' restored
timepieces. A few of the stores are so large you could spend days in each,
such as the 8,000 square feet of consignment goods in the Treasure Mart to
5,000 square feet of pickings at Biggar Antiques.
Biggar Antiques is crammed from ceiling to floor with Americana large
and small. Photo: Krista Reese
"We have more stuff hanging from our ceiling than most places have on
the floor," said co-owner Jeff Biggar. It's fun to walk through Biggar's
just to see the old signs and patent-medicine boxes, as well as the hundreds
of oak chairs, bicycles, and other ephemera dangling from above. Biggar's has
such specialty areas as the Country Store, Western Room, and Paper Room, with
such finds as a Bakelite Dreyfuss phone, circa early 1950s, for $95, and
framed Varga Girl calendar pages for $65.
If it's more upscale items you're after, you may want to investigate the
old-school, fine antique shops along Peachtree Road, such as the Beverly
Bremer Silver Shop, with its collection of rare, antique sterling flatware
patterns and serving pieces (perfect if you just need the olive fork to
complete your set), as well as unusual silver giftware, and Richters of
Atlanta, with a large collection of estate and period jewelry.
Other upscale shops in the Buckhead/Midtown axis include those along Miami
Circle. More than 70 antique stores specialize in fine art, including Franya
Waide Antiques, and furniture, such as Bobby Dodd Antiques, where you'll find
18th- and 19th-century English, Biedermeier, and continental pieces ranging
from $2,000 to $20,000.
Further north, in Sandy Springs, you'll find the venerable Red Baron's
Antiques. This is "the most formidable architectural antique house in
the country," said LouAnne Baxter, manager of King Galleries, a Baron's
affiliate with more affordable pieces. The Red Baron's quarterly auctions are
legendary, $100-ticket events, where such items as John Lennon's Rolls-Royce,
Mussolini's armoire, and Elvis Presley's first guitar found new owners. Stop
in to peruse the Red Baron's unique items, many from European estates or
private collections, which at press time included pub bars, Tiffany windows,
and a seven-carat aquamarine pendant. "It's the only free museum in
town," said Baxter.
King Galleries will be hosting an auction on Sunday, May 22, from noon to 7
p.m. or so, with a Saturday preview of more than 700 items. It's free and open
to the public.
Other regularly scheduled weekend shows are at Lakewood Antiques Market and
Scott's, but the only nearby show scheduled during APA's annual meting is at
Alpharetta's Main Street Market, held the third weekend of each month in the
historic old downtown of an affluent suburb north of Atlanta. In Marietta, on
the metro area's northwest edge, wander around the picture-perfect old town
square, with more than 20 antique shops within spittoon distance.
If you prefer shopping on a smaller scale, you might be interested in Tara
Antiques, a quirky collection of consignment goods on Cheshire Bridge Road, or
Kudzu, an eccentric assortment of booths outside Decatur. If you want some
street life and café choices while browsing, visit Virginia Highland's
20th Century Modern or the more bohemian Little Five Points. The latter shop
offers such retro-modern sources as Boomerang, filled to the doorjamb with
inexpensive, funky '50s pieces like kidney-shaped coffee tables and, on a
recent visit, a curvy brown velvet swivel chair on a round wooden base for
A more selective assortment of cleanlined mid-century furniture and
decorative items awaits you at Victory Vintage Home, a new shop in an emerging
area of Decatur, not far from Agnes Scott College.
They may be your best chance to see Atlanta's real preservation effort.▪