The human race is a nostalgic one — we love to daydream about past generations and be reminded of our early roots. We collect relics of Grandma’s house; pieces of history that we identify with and want to immortalize. The opportunity to do this exists in the form of antique sales, like the Appleton Antique Show from April 18-19 at the Tri-County Ice Arena in Neenah.
For the first time in its history, the show will be organized by Friends of Hearthstone, the group of volunteers who keep the Hearthstone Historic House Museum in Appleton up and running. The president of the board of directors, Cheryl Kaczmarek, says Friends of Hearthstone has never put on a fundraising event of this magnitude — between 2,000 and 3,000 people are usually expected to attend. “An antique show is a great complement to our mission, which is to preserve history and create a sense of value for craftsmanship and art, and the way things were made years ago,” Kaczmarek says.
Friends of Hearthstone is a completely nonprofit, volunteer-led organization whose goal is to preserve the Hearthstone House in Appleton as a museum. Kaczmarek says Friends of Hearthstone work to “illuminate history, culture and innovation from the late 1800s when the house was built.” The house is certainly a significant piece of history; it was the first house in the world to be powered with hydroelectricity, and was among the first sweep of homes to have cutting-edge technology, such as central heating and running water.
Aside from a piece of technological innovation, the house is a piece of art. “When I was 12 or 13, the Appleton mayor’s family lived in the house, and they opened it up for tours. My mom took me to see the house and when we walked in, my jaw dropped. It was so beautiful. For a little girl, it was a fantasy come to life,” Kaczmarek says. When the house became a museum in 1987, Kaczmarek became involved in marketing right away and has been a part of Friends of Hearthsone ever since working her way up to be president of the board.
“We have a board of directors that plans the long-term strategy of the house including restoration, research, planning events, fundraising, education — what kind of exhibits we can have in the house and how we can tell the story of living in Appleton in the late 1800s,” Kaczmarek explains.
An avid antique collector herself, Kaczmarek is excited about the opportunity to organize the Antique Show. “Antiquing brings back a nostalgia for the past,” she says. “Seeing articles of furniture or household items can bring back such special memories.” The Appleton Antique Show also strikes a particular personal chord with Kaczmarek. “My husband is an antique dealer, and we met at the Appleton Antique Show 13 years ago, so it’s very special to me,” she says.
But the chance to find something special exists for everyone who attends the show. “There’s something for everyone,” Kaczmarek says. “We encourage families to come out, too. Kids can learn about history and collect little things like buttons and postcards. It starts them on a love and appreciation of old things and what it means to collect.”
In the age of cheap mass production, the love of old things is becoming more widespread. The quality of antiques is often a lot better than that of today’s commodities because of the level of craftsmanship that went into it. “That’s why people like to come to the antique show,” Kaczmarek says. “People just love the look and quality of antiques. And, some of the looks are back in style now.”
The Antique Show has even more to offer than one-of-a-kind antiques. In addition to a new organizer, the venue of the show will have a new look since undergoing renovations, making the antiquing experience that much better. The show also will have interactive booths reminding antiquers of what the show is fundraising for. “Friends of Hearthstone also will have a special booth with costume characters of the family that built the house. We’ll have Mrs. Rogers and her housekeeper Mrs. Ryan to talk about the house,” Kaczmarek explains.
If you can’t make it to the Antique Show, there is still always a chance to experience relics of the past. “Everything we do is to keep the museum open so people can come and see this wonderful house,” Kaczmarek says, adding that the house is open for tours. “It’s really worth preserving the story behind the house.”
The hours of this year’s show will be from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday. The $6 cost of admission is good for both days, and children under 16 can attend for free. For more information on the show, the show’s vendors and the Hearthstone Historic House Museum, visit HearthstoneMuseum.org.