Once Upon A Sign

Once upon a time (over 6 years ago), I came into possession of a vintage “Paint Supplies” sign for my studio via Robin Jenkins Antiques.

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This wasn’t the first time serendipity struck and I secured a much treasured piece with the help of Robin–but that is another story.

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Shortly after I claimed ownership of the sign, I became the first Stockist/Retailer for Annie Sloan in New England.  My once private studio was opened to the public for business stocking Annie Sloan’s decorative paint- Chalk Paint® for walls, furniture and cabinetry.

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The sign has graced the west wall of my shop ever since.  It is often the first thing people notice when they enter my store and working studio.  A true harbinger—marking the beginning of my time as a small business owner while simultaneously exposing my love for antique and vintage trade signs.

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Robin did not know the provenance of the sign–it had been exposed to the elements and needed some cleaning up (which I did here).

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While I hoped the sign came from an old mom & pop shop in Bristol, there was no way to tell.  The sheer size of the sign appeared to contradict that possibility.  Who would need a 12 foot Paint Supplies sign in a small size shop (aside from me) ?  Certainly the sign had to come from a large department store where it would aid in navigation.  There was a similarly-sized companion sign at Robin’s Tiverton location labeled “Hardware – Tools.”

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Fast forward 2 years when two local women popped into my shop to see what it was all about.  They stopped in their tracks and pointed to the sign and asked about its origin. One shared with me that the sign came from an outbuilding on her property on Usher Terrace (once known as Usher Place) in Bristol.  She didn’t know where it came from either and was regretting not keeping at least one of the signs. It was a possibility that someone who lived on that property may have owned a paint and hardware store but I thought it would forever remain a mystery –until now!

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A few weeks ago I bought Richard v. Simpson’s book “Bristol Through Time.”  It contains many “then and now” photos of Bristol including the shop I purchased the book from–Paper, Packaging & Panache at 418 Hope Street.  The shop was the “now” photo at the bottom of the book cover and is also shown in a ‘then and now’ picture comparison inside the book.  If you have any interest in Bristol’s architectural history I highly recommend the book.

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Source: Bristol Through Time by Richard V. Simpson, Photo by Sandy Town

Lo and behold, on page 29 the book features a July 4, 1937 photo by Sandy Town of the same location where I purchased the book.  However, back then it was a  Hardware -Tools and Paint Supply store that looked to be owned by a “Johnston.”

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Looking at the photo I was pretty sure that the sign gracing the wall in my shop is one and the same as the exterior mounted “Paint Supplies” sign in the photo.  The companion “Hardware – Tools” sign is shown on the left side of the photo.  That would explain the sign dimensions.

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Source: Town of Bristol, RI Property Card, 418 Hope street

Just to be sure, I did a little digging.  I used the Town of Bristol Website to look up the Property Record Card for 518 Hope Street.  I discovered that Algernon and Lida Johnston purchased the property from Samuel Colt in 1923 and it did not transfer hands again until 1953 when it became owned by Marguerite Johnston.

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My next step was to search the online archives at Roger Williams University made possible by the Bristol Phoenix Indexing Project.

An August 13, 1943 article in Rhode Island’s Bristol Phoenix described a temporary WWII era recruiting station set up at “Johnston’s Store” at 418 Hope Street.

This was helpful after finding an A. L. Johnston advertisement in the March 14, 1930 Bristol Phoenix that did not contain the store address.

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The most revealing of the articles was an October 13, 1948 obituary for Algernon Le Baron Johnston of 41 Usher Terrace in Bristol.  According to the Phoenix “Mr. Johnston conducted a hardware business in Bristol for twenty five years until his retirement in 1942.  His love of tools not only gave him business incentive but resulted in his numerous wood craft hobbies.”  Hmm, could he have made the sign?

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Interestingly, Mr. Johnston, born on September 7, 1880 was a 9th generation descendent of James Cole who came from London in 1633 to settle in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  This makes sense as Bristol was once part of Plymouth Colony (purchased after the King Philip War ended in 1678) and part of Massachusetts until the Crown transferred it to the Rhode Island Colony in 1747.

Mr. Johnston was a charter member of the Bristol Rotary Club, serving as Treasurer for many years and took special interest and effort in creating and supporting Summer Camp opportunities for children in Bristol.  So much so that the Bristol Rotary created a fund in his honor – “The Algy Johnston Memorial Camp Fund.”

His wife Mrs. Marguerite Johnston was listed as the sole survivor with no mention of his first wife that appeard be listed in the historic property record.  Aided by an obituary in the Phoenix, I was able to confirm that Mr. Johnston’s first wife was Lida (Pearse) who passed away in 1938 and was a direct descendent of John Howland that came to this country on the Mayflower. At the time of her death she was residing at 103 Church Street.

I gleaned from another obituary that Mrs. Marguerite Flowers Johnston was Mr. Johnston’s 2nd wife, and a well-educated former Teacher who passed away in 1971.  She lived at 41 Usher Terrace and was originally from Saranac, New York.  In December, 1970 the deed to her land and buildings was transferred to her nephew H. Sanford Town (the son of Harry Town and her sister Ina Flowers Town.)  The current Bristol, RI Property Card for 41 Usher Terrace shows H. Sanford Town as one of the prior owners  of record.  Matthew Town (most likely related) is recorded as once owning a neighboring property where my sign was found.

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Source: Bristol Phoenix 1922 Advertisement

I am grateful to own a small piece of Bristol’s mercantile history and to finally uncover the significance of its origin.  While many businesses come and go and the future of brick-and-mortar stores is up for debate, I continue to be proud to be part of the small business community in Bristol and happy to walk in the footsteps of the many who came before me as I celebrate my 6th year in business.

 

 

 

The British are Coming!

The British are coming— thankfully this time for the British Motor Car Festival! British Motor Car Fest logo

Please save the date for the fun & fabulous British Motor Car Festival is to be held in Bristol, Rhode Island June 12th to 14th, 2015 at Colt State Park! The Motorcar Festival is patterned after the much celebrated British Invasion Car Show held in Stowe, VT for the past 25 years.  What a special treat to have the festivities come to Rhode Island!

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This first Bristol spring Motorcar Festival will bring in 300 or more classic British motorcars cars in addition to several thousand attendees. The Festival will kick-off on Friday at Colt State Park featuring a Rally and a Registrant’s Reception.

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On Friday night there will be a street party in downtown Bristol along Independence Park with a live band and reserved parking for British Motorcars.  Saturday will start with the arrival of the “QUEEN” in her Royal Carriage to a Bristol Train of Artillery canon salute.

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Saturday will feature the Concours d’Elegance (Judged Competition); the British Classic Motorcar Show (People’s Choice); a British Car Corral; New British Motorcar Display, The British Marketplace; British Music, Food & Beverages; a British Attire Competition for Car Show Registrants, Guests, and the General Public; and of course the Ladies Hat Competition; and more. Sunday will offer a morning drive and more activities.

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No doubt Bristolians and visitors alike will be rolling out the red carpet for this Bristish Invasion!  We are already planning out some fun projects to mark this special occasion.  Perhaps another British Flag furniture project?  You will have to stay tuned…..

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To learn more as the plans for the fun festivities unfold, click here.  As always, we invite you to Explore Bristol!

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Holiday Preview & A Giveaway!

In celebration of our HOLIDAY PREVIEW & BOOK PARTY, Sea Rose Cottage is co-sponsoring a special GIVEWAY with our friends craft author Elyse Major of Tinkered Treasures & Danielle Driscoll home and lifestyle blogger of Finding Silver Pennies.

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First, we hope you will join us at Sea Rose Cottage on Friday November 22nd from 5-9pm for a festive book signing and tinkering event with Elyse and Danielle. The night promises to be full of good cheer, inspiration and conversation! (More details here)

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Now, on to the GIVEAWAY.  As we celebrate the joys of tinkering this Holiday Season we are happy to be sharing some of our favorite tinkering tools, tricks and treasures with you in the form of a freshly picked TINKERING BASKET ($170 value).

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THREE baskets will be given away.  To enter the online drawing for the first 2 baskets, follow the how to enter instructions below.  To enter the in-person drawing for the 3rd basket come tinker with us at the HOLIDAY PREVIEW PARTY!

The lucky winners will receive a signed copy of Elyse Major’s new Tinkered Treasures book,

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a beautiful hand-made ornament and set of notecards from Danielle Driscoll,

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and some vintage ornaments and fun tinkering supplies from Sea Rose Cottage featuring Miss Mustard Seed Products.

Miss Mustard Seed GiveawayMilk Paint & Mixer, Furniture & Antiquing Wax, Bonding Agent, and Paint & Wax Brush

 

HOW TO ENTER THE ONLINE GIVEAWAY:

1. Leave a comment and tell me what you’d like to create.

2. For a second chance to win, like my facebook page and leave a comment to let me know.

3.  For a third chance to win, share this giveaway on a social media of your choice and let me know you did.

4. For even more chances to win, enter at the Silver Pennies & Tinkered Treasures blogs!

This GIVEAWAY will end November 22, 2013 at 9pm EST.*

Two winners of the online giveaway, to be selected randomly, will be announced Saturday November 23, 2013 at the Finding Silver Pennies Tinkered Treasures blogs.   The winner of the 3rd basket (must be present at the Holiday Preview Party to enter) will be selected by random drawing at the Sea Rose Cottage HOLIDAY PREVIEW PARTY.

Good luck and HAPPY TINKERING!

*The GIVEAWAY is only open to those living in the continental US and readers who are 18 and older.

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Holiday Preview Party & Book Signing

Please join us for our HOLIDAY PREVIEW PARTY as we host special guests craft author ELYSE MAJOR and home & lifestyle blogger DANIELLE DRISCOLL for a festive book signing and tinkering event!

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The event will be held at Sea Rose Cottage, 21 Constitution Street in Bristol from 5-9pm on Friday November 22nd. 

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Elyse Major
Photo credit: Marisa Bettencourt

Elyse Major is an accomplished Rhode Island author and blogger whose artful “tinkering” gives new life and charm to everyday objects.

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Elyse will be sharing her special magic with us—selling and signing copies of her new book Tinkered Treasures and showing us how we can turn everyday objects into special gifts and treasures!

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To double the fun, we will be joined by the talented blogger, crafter and furniture painter Danielle Driscoll of the Finding Silver Pennies Blog!

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Danielle Driscoll

Danielle Driscoll

Danielle will share inspiring ways to add warmth and personality to our homes for the Holidays.

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Danielle’s hand-made creations will be on sale as well as other unique holiday gifts.

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The event will feature a craft buffet, nibbles and sips, great company and good cheer!

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We invite you to join us at Sea Rose Cottage as we get our craft on
and kick-off Bristol’s 12th Annual HOLIDAY PREVIEW!

not. to. be. missed.