Trailing Antiques in North Georgia
written by MARTY STEINER | photos courtesy of MARTY STEINER; SLYVAN FALLS MILL B&B
MILE FOR ROLLING MILE, there may be no more diverse and dense antique area than along U.S. Route 441 between the Georgia towns of Dillard and Clayton or even beyond. No matter what your specific interest, there’s a shop for that. Some are meticulously organized, others a jumble to be explored.
Antique shops come in many forms. Single shops and antique malls are the most common. Single shops, in particular, range from well-ordered displays with detailed information on the price tags to minimal information, making the search more of a treasure hunt best suited to a well-informed shopper. While most shops are general in their inventory, there are also some very focused specialty shops.
Antique malls are more or less a collection of single shops with a mix of all of these styles and offerings. Many feature display cases that represent a single shop, along with booth spaces. Shoppers in this area can encounter country primitive furniture and a large selection of quality collectibles. There is an unusually rich selection of Coca-Cola collectibles as well as men’s items including hunting — and auto racing-related finds. Cast iron cookware as well as children’s books, toys and furniture are in large supply. Prices are quite realistic.
Though a number of communities are named, the entire area from Clayton to Dillard, which includes most of the shops described, is only 7 miles! Travelers from the Atlanta area will be pleasantly surprised by the easy four-lane drive, far different from years ago.
In Dillard, home to one of the most concentrated clusters of antique shops I’ve seen, by the time you can put your checkbook away from one shop, you’re already in the next one.
The Appalachian Trader is at the south end of this bunch and presents everything in categorized groups, clean and clearly identified with prices. Their inventory takes you back in time to the old farmstead, general store or tender memories in great grandma’s kitchen.“Guy stuff” is prominent — tools, fishing equipment, shaving gear and tobacco-related items. A side room is filled with kitchen utensils and books.
Porter’s Coffee House & Collectibles’ name is somewhat misleading as almost all of its fairly large space is filled with heirlooms, not coffee drinkers. Nor is The Dillard Market the local general store. It is an antique mall with a number of case goods including primitive to formal styles. A top-dollar item was a cherry corner cabinet, along with quilts, a number of kitchen cabinets and folk art by Scott Peppers. Next up, Yesterday’s Treasures Antique Mall proudly offers true antiques with 50 dealers represented. This means everything from a pressed glass dealer to Victorian quilts and folk art matchstick boxes may be found. Déjà Vu Antiques specializes in glass, china and pottery. Merchandise is clearly identified and displayed properly by maker and pattern. If you know what you are looking for, you can go right to it! They also offer tools including planes and rulers.
Carol’s Back Porch Antique Mall is for people who like to search for their prizes. Straight-sided Coke bottles, Coke carriers, milk bottles, insulators and Hull and McCoy pottery are mixed with iceboxes and furniture. Pa’s Front Porch had a few unusual items, including two sets of spurs with silver inlay, a miniature violin (salesman’s sample, maybe?) and a number of children’s cap pistols. Up Yonder Mini Mall is located directly across the highway from all the other Dillard antique shops and upstairs above Lazy Bear Furniture. A sharp-eyed collector will notice a few signifi can’t items among a wide selection of material. Among these are a group of seldom-seen, scale-size spring driven cast metal Indianapolis race cars. Close by is a group of engraved newspaper illustrations from the mid-19th century.
Perched right above the highway and within sight of the Dillard antique shops, the Rabun Manor is both a bed and breakfast as well as a restaurant. Built in 1846, the rooms and common areas are spacious and formal in spite of the fact that the original structure was a country residence. In addition to five guest rooms in the main house, two additional rooms are provided in nearby cabins. Breakfast is served at a fixed time; fixed price dinners on Friday and Saturday are by reservation.
RESTING IN RABUN GAP
Armies may march on their stomachs but antiquers need to refuel with good food and beverage, not to mention an interesting place to stay. Only in Rabun Gap, Ga., can you stay in a room at a grist mill that has been in operation for more than 175 years! The Sylvan Falls Mill Bed & Breakfast is such the place.
With only four guest rooms, the B&B is quite informal and very comfy. The screened breakfast room is filled with the steady sound of the waterfall a scant few feet away. At night, this gentle roar could almost lull you to sleep. The “Blue Room” is in the mill house, right off the common area, within earshot of this sound and a few steps from the screened-in dining area. Like anyone’s family room, the common room is fi lled with favorite books, an album containing the mill’s history, a collection of area restaurant menus and information about a few of the local sites. Some measure of escape from the daily cares is the limited access of cell phones — although WiFi is available — and the nearby distraction of shopping, because the inn is just minutes from Dillard’s many shops.
York House Inn has the distinction of being the oldest continuously operating inn in the state since 1896. Initially established to house Tallulah Falls Railroad workers, it transitioned to take in travelers and boarders. The historical integrity of the structure has been maintained and it has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1982. Owner/Operators Stan and Christine Penton have decades of experience in the hospitality field, which is seen particularly at the dining room table.
MOVING ON TO MOUNTAIN CITY
One of the best sources in the area is the Golden Memories Auction Co. in Mountain City. If you are fortunate enough to visit when there is an auction, or smart enough to plan it that way, be sure to stop by and view the material. A recent sale offered more than 350 listed lots. These included country primitive furniture including twig items, Southern pottery, coverlets, musical instruments, baskets, clocks and original art. An upcoming auction July 9 will offer jukeboxes, radios, phonographs, music boxes, vintage motorcycles, bicycles and Coca-Cola items.
CALLING IT A DAY IN CLAYTON
Clayton is the county seat of Rabun County and has its own group of antique venues. Collectors of antique post cards (deltiologists) will have trouble leaving Prater Collectibles. George Prater opens on Friday through Sunday, or by appointment, to customers to peruse his millions of mailings. If you need a break, or time to call your banker for a loan, wife Vicki Prater operates Weekends at Praters adjacent to the post card shop with shakes, coffee, chocolates and biscotti.
Another unusual and specialized store is Jowers Antique Appliances, where vintage kitchen appliances are sold, or, if you already have one, restored. Jowers has an international clientele and long lead times for restorations. Lulu and Tully’s Consignment, a new mall-like store, has just opened in Clayton and while not totally limited to antiques, they did have many items of interest to the serious collector.
If you still have room in your vehicle and money to spend after your antique shopping, you may want to stop by the Osage Farms market in Rabun Gap and buy local, farm fresh produce, jellies and jams, home baked breads from Our Daily Bread from Ellijay. Right next door to the Osage market is Tomlin’s BBQ, where you can buy their famous sauces or send a “care package” to arrive when you get home. Tomlin’s, open Friday through Sunday, is particularly known for their brisket, cornbread salad and black-eyed pea salad.
Many more antique stops and time-honored tables for dining dot the route, awaiting recreational and avid collectors alike. In planning a trip to the Dillard area, the website for Georgia Antique Trail offers information and maps about most of the antique shops in northeast Georgia, as well as the entire state. These can be your guide to your “Happy Hunting Grounds!”
SEARCH BEYOND STATE BORDERS
More Finds in Franklin, N.C.
One can venture only 15 miles north on 441 from Dillard and visit antique shops in Franklin, N.C. The first that is encountered on the right of the one-way traffic pattern of downtown Franklin is Nestfeathers Antiques & Collectibles. While a general line mall with three floors it offers some unusual items that are “guy things.”
Seldom seen blacksmith tools and equipment including anvils, tongs and hammers are offered. Folk art included a bottle cap stand, which probably once held an ashtray, and a four-piece set of doll size furniture made from clothespins. A baker’s table with an oak Hoosier top sitting on it with original Hoosier tag, a large meal chest with Pennsylvania-style painted front panels and another smaller, simpler, more primitive, meal chest are examples of furniture items. A collectible candlestick telephone sat on a nearby oak icebox.
Next up is the Attic Antiques, which occupies the upper floor of a brick building to the left (entrance is around back!). This is very much a general line mall with vintage clothes, and quilts of varying age, condition and price. A cast iron toy wagon with an eight-horse team and many pieces and parts was spotted here.
The Mountain Willow does not claim to be an antique store or mall but a “gallery of interesting things” and does have a few notable items. Any automobile racing collector will find nirvana on the lower level with piles of NASCAR and other racing group’s publications, calendars, placemats and hardback books. All are moderately priced. Also seen was a working, refinished Chicago Cottage pump organ (predecessor of the Cable Piano Co.), an oak Kellogg crank wall phone and an old telephone switchboard with the telephone operator’s chair.
If you have a designated driver, you may want to stop at one of North Carolina’s craft breweries, the Lazy Hiker Brewing Co. It is just beyond the antique shops as you leave Franklin. Part way between Dillard and Franklin is Bryant’s Antique & Unique. This relatively small shop fulfills its “unique” designation. A very rare complete Coca-Cola three-piece soda jerk uniform is hung near a group of Lionel and other vintage electric trains. Authentic Civil War newspapers are seen along with vintage printed advertising food wrappers, calendars, lobby cards, and autographed photos. Prices here are realistic and perhaps even bargains.