The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 8, 2002


Carlisle Antiques thrives in 1870s barn

Carlisle Antiques is located at 549 Bedford Road. (Photo by Midge Eliassen)
When John Proctor Davis built his farm in 1870, he couldn't have envisioned the future business that would one day thrive within the large barn next to his home at 549 Bedford Road. Even so, one gets the feeling Davis would approve. History and respect for the past are not only evident in the care provided for the original buildings portions of which date back to the 1700s but also are manifested in the property's current identity as the home of Carlisle Antiques, owned by John and Tina Kyprianos.

Such a business in such a setting seemed appropriate, say the Kyprianoses, who opened Carlisle Antiques about four years ago. "It has the right flavor it has charm and it's unassuming," says Tina.

Luckily, not too unassuming. People are aware that Carlisle Antiques is there, in spite of the fact that they don't do much advertising and are not currently listed in the Red Balloon phone book. "The number one comment we hear [from customers] is that they have driven by many times, usually on their way to work," John says. "The second most common thing we hear is that people have a friend over and they come because it's something fun to do in Carlisle."

Although the customers drawn to Carlisle Antiques often include tourists from other states and countries, the Kyprianoses say many of the most flattering comments come from the hometown crowd. "A woman from Carlisle came in after spending a week antiquing in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. She told us, 'I like your shop the bestand you're a mile from me,'" says John.

1870 barn

The barn that houses Carlisle Antiques is as fascinating to view as the antiques themselves. Most of the floorboards and beams in the barn (except those that required replacement due to wear and tear) are original. Look up and you'll see hooks attached to one of the ceiling beams, which once supported a swing used by the resident children and their friends, according to Davis relatives who occasionally return to visit the barn. You'll also see a series of pulleys tucked in the crook of the ceiling, used long ago to haul bales of hay. Also up in the loft, which serves as the second floor of Carlisle Antiques, there is an old wagon bench, bearing peeling blue paint and the words "John Proctor Davis, Carlisle, Mass." This item of course, is not for sale.

Treasure trove of items
An interior view of Carlisle Antiques. (Photo by Midge Eliassen)

But as for items that are for sale, Carlisle Antiques offers a treasure trove of satisfyingly browse-able, and surprisingly affordable items. A sampling from a recent browsing visit included an example of "Trench Art" from 1905, which is a large mortar shell that was hammered into an art nouveau-style vase by a bored soldier in the trenches during World War I; a wicker "boardwalk chair" resembling a wheelchair that was used to transport lazy seaside vacationers; and from the second World War a tail gun camera, which was once mounted on an Army Air Corps airplane to film their bombings. There are also what Tina calls "kitchen what's-its", oddly shaped gadgets whose functions are unclear (but fun to guess); postcards from the early 1900s; century-old farm tools and a variety of collectible china pieces and figurines. Every nook and cranny reveals a new discovery.

Then there's the furniture. There are styles fit for antique lovers such as a five-piece "parlor set," from the 1920s featuring an upholstered sofa, chairs and side pieces hand-carved from Austrian wood for under $6,000, as well as "finds" like a sturdy bureau in need of refinishing, for just $150. There are dining room sets, dressing tables, headboards and curio cabinets. Two of the more unusual pieces include a desk fashioned from an old spinet piano and a 1930s Silvertone (Sears) console radio, complete with channel buttons that bear the call letters of Boston radio stations.

The antiques come to Carlisle Antiques from many sources, including individuals, estate sales and auctions. The concept of taking items that have been owned and treasured by people from the past is one of the things that makes the antique business so attractive to them, the Kyprianoses say. It is, indeed, a unique and pleasurable way to support what we consider a more modern endeavor: Recycling. "This is a 'green' business," affirms Tina.

But for everything Carlisle Antiques has to offer, the one thing it doesn't include in spite of a clamoring among Carlisle residents is a tea room.

"It's time to let that rumor die," says John with some regret.

"It had a lot of life to it. People kept saying 'when, when'?" adds Tina.

The rumor started with solid fact: when the Kyprianoses originally obtained their business permit from the town four years ago, it included permission to open a small four-table tea room in the cozy chamber that connects the house and barn. Unfortunately, the couple found themselves stretched too thin to open the tea room, and now that portion of the permit has expired.

"It would have been fun to have little tea parties all the time, but it's just not practical for us," says Tina. "But the interest is obviously there. Someone should do it."

John Kyprianos, a 15-year Carlisle resident, and Tina, who has lived here for four years, share their home with Tina's two sons, Ted, 12, and John, 14. Both boys attend the Carlisle Public School. Although one might assume that the Kyprianoses' private home is completely furnished with favorite antiques, Tina says this is not the case. "It just isn't practical when you have a plethora of cats and boys and such."

"We probably have only three or four nice pieces that we've kept for ourselves," John adds. "Most of all, we like the hunt, finding the [antique items] and then finding good homes for them."

Carlisle Antiques is located at 549 Bedford Road and is open Tuesday through Friday from noon to 5; Saturdays from 10 to 5 and Sundays from 11 to 4. They are also open on Monday holidays. The phone number is 1-978-369-0129.

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito