Retro Summer Fun in Vermont

Compared to the seemingly endless winters, summers in Vermont can fly by. Therefore, it's important to cram as much warm-weather fun into those outdoor-friendly months as possible. While known for great outdoor activities like biking, kayaking, and farmer's market-hopping, we've found a few retro-inspired summer activities that are definitely worth checking out.

The annual Preservation Burlington homes tour  will be held on Saturday June 4th from 12-4pm. Unfortunately it won't be touring  modernist homes like it was last year, but this year's theme of Carriage Houses may prove to be equally fun for the voyeur in all of us and allow us to catch a glimpse of some unique homes.

The Sunset Drive-In Theatre is a welcome blast from the past that makes summer movie going a little bit more fun.  The last time I was at a drive-in movie was in the mid 80s as a pre-teen with my parents seeing License to Drive and Pretty in Pink at the Wellfleet in Massachusetts in a Pontiac 6000 station wagon.  I'm looking forward to trying the experience again!

Summer is the perfect time to visit one of the fabulous retro diners or creemee shops (aka soft-serve ice cream, for non-Vermonters) throughout Vermont.  Al's French Frys in South Burlington is a popular creemee destination complete with 1950s music hanging in the air along with the smell of greasy food and hot fudge. One of our favorite diners is Libby's Blue Line diner in Colchester.  The retro atmosphere can only be topped by their sassy waitstaff and fantastic classic Milkshakes.

If you're an Anglophile like us, then you must check out The British Invasion in Stowe, Vermont September 16th-18th.  It's New England's largest automobile show and celebration, and features classic cars from Minis to Morgans and Rolls Royces. In addition they have a large marketplace and food court where you can purchase British car-related items as well as classic British candy, condiments, food, and drinks.

Afterward you can complete your end of summer mod British day by grabbing a pint at Mr. Pickwick's Gastropub in Stowe village, which is a little bit of Olde England in New England.

As always we welcome other Vermont area retro fun summer suggestions, so please let us know of other events that may be going on!


Finding Midcentury Modern Treasures in Northern Vermont

Vermont has a lot of great antique stores. Indeed. However, most shops we've been to so far tend to focus on what most people think of when they think of "New England" and "antiques" in the same breath - mostly 19th and early 20th century rustic, primitive, and colonial revival items. So finding midcentury gems from the 1950s and 1960s in Vermont can be a challenge. Luckily there are a couple of shops in Burlington that fill the gap and make an effort to carry items from the mid-20th century.

Anjou & The Little Pear is our favorite. Anjou is a consignment shop on Main Street in downtown Burlington founded in 2009 with a great selection of both furniture and smaller decorative items.

They give their consignors three months to sell their items, and reduce the price every 30 days. That makes the inventory turn over quite frequently, so it's always worth popping in to see what's new. We've found some of our favorite items at Anjou, including a fantastic vintage Lane cedar chest, and a vintage arm chair that's the most comfortable seat in our apartment.

More recently we're picked up some really cool smaller items, like the vase and pitcher pictured below. They go well with our living room color scheme. The best thing about Anjou - besides the very friendly owner - is their prices. I would characterize them as extremely fair. You're not going to find a vintage original Eames chair, unrecognized, for $10. But they do price things to move, and I've never been shocked by a price tag in Anjou.

Modern*Love is a showroom inside Anjou that focuses solely on higher-end designer midcentury (mostly Danish and American) furniture, with a few smaller items on offer. You can check out the latest finds for sale at Modern*Love at Anjou here, and you can check out their entire selection of items for sale around Burlington here.

[UPDATE: June 2012: Modern*Love has left the space they occupied at Anjou and the James-half of Modern*Love has spun off to form Old School Artifacts. He's currently looking for floor space in Burlington, but until then, you can find his shop online and on Facebook.]

If you've just purchased a house and are longing to rip out the awful 1980s decor and fixtures and remake it as a home out of the 1950s or 60s, head over to Mason Brothers Architecturals and Antiques, in Essex Junction, VT, just a short drive from Burlington. Mason Brothers does architectural salvage. They have an incredible selection of pedestal sinks from the 1950s, clawfoot tubs, art deco and midcentury light fixtures, doors of all kinds, and tons of drawer pulls and other hardware. Their selection spans all different periods so it can take a bit of digging to find what you're looking for. The last time we visited, they had a respectable selection of midcentury boomerang drawer pulls. And everything is the real deal - no reproductions. For example, check out these art deco pendant lights - they were saved from the Neshobe Schoolhouse in Brandon, Vermont. And here's a midcentury Danish teak dining set - with original upholstery in nearly pristine condition. They also have a lot of other curiosities - like this old phone booth from Burlington's City Hall building (looks 1940s to me; would be a cool item if you had a big loft), or even this turn-of-the-last-century Harvard dentist chair. Of course, being that these items are all original, in good shape, and rare - you'll pay a pretty penny for most of them.

One other place in Burlington worth checking out is Barge Canal Market on Pine Street. BCM expanded about a year ago from Speaking Volumes, a used record and book shop one door down. In addition to books and records, BCM carries all sorts of used furniture and other antiques. While they do often have a fair number of MCM items, it really can be hit or miss, and the inventory is so expansive it can feel like a chore digging through everything. But if you have some time to spare, it's definitely worth checking out, and finding hidden gems make the search all the more rewarding.

Have another shop in the Burlington area we didn't mention that has some good finds? Let us know!

Upcoming posts: Midcentury Modern on a Budget