Style’s Antiques Road Trip

A 1910 dresser at the Umatilla Antiques Market is one of the store’s most prized pieces. Owner Delores Carter examines a vintage box at her Umatilla Antiques Market. A 1920 pump organ at Old South Antiques in Eustis grabbed our attention. A Geisha Girl lithopane tea set made an attractive display at Pak-Ratz in Mount Dora. Bob Treen of Old South Antiques in Eustis tells Mary Ann DeSantis about a wrought iron decor item. The Garden Gate Tea Room’s well-manicured courtyard is a perfect spot to relax. Lucy and Ricky toy car. Uncle Al’s Time Capsule in Mount Dora specializes in memorabilia from the Baby Boomer era, including the Lucy and Ricky toy car. Victoria’s Antique Warehouse gives new life to vintage furniture. Grace’s Books & Records offers thousands of collectible titles. Sue Grace is a great detective when it comes to finding rare books, especially those in her Leesburg store.

We all love Renninger’s with its massive 117 acres of antiques. Nothing compares to the excitement and the hustle and bustle of Renninger’s antiques extravaganzas.  Sometimes, though, you just love to browse quietly through interesting shops where you can talk to the owners about a perfect home décor item or a collectible that you’ve always wanted.


Armed with bottled waters, a little cash, and good walking shoes, writer Leigh Neely, associate editor Mary Ann DeSantis, and photographer Jeff Markow spent a full day on the road exploring a few of the shops that make Lake County an antique-lover’s heaven.


UMATILLA ANTIQUES MARKET


LEIGH: The first stop on our quest to visit as many antique stores as we could in a day was the small north Lake town of Umatilla. The streets are busy but not overcrowded; its people are friendly and anxious to please.


We went to the Umatilla Antiques Market, a landmark that once housed the old Miller Grocery Store. It is owned by Roy and Delores Carter, who specialize in items from estate sales. As we walked to the front door, we passed through an outdoor display that included a folding picnic table, tools, and even some fishing gear.


Beside the large old-fashioned cash register, complete with big keys and a loud bell, was a neat exhibit of collectible buttons. I saw U.S. Navy, Air Force, and some that looked very old. According to Delores, who owns the market, these buttons can be as expensive as jewelry.


The store has a homey feel with lots of chairs around, and Delores says they’re for the customers.


“We try to have plenty of chairs because folks need to sit down,” she says, “and all our chairs are for sitting.”


I found my first treasure of the day sitting on an inconspicuous little table filled with china. I collect tea cups and saucers, and Delores had an array of Royal Albert china cups and saucers that were colorful and enticing. I came away with a delicate looking tea cup and saucer covered with beautiful flowers for just $10.
 
MARY ANN: Delores has been handling estate sales for more than 15 years, and she knows her business. When you walk to the back of the store, you’ll see exquisite pieces of furniture, including a beautiful dresser (circa 1910) that Delores says is one of her most prized pieces.


I probably could have spent my entire day’s budget at the Umatilla Antiques Market, especially on the Depression glass, which I collect. Of all the places we visited, Umatilla had the largest collections of vintage glass.


“I’ve got cranberry glass and Depression glass and just about any color of glass you want,” Delores says with a knowing smile. “I tell everybody I like pink, green, red, blue—whatever color of glass we have.”


Knowing that I had to keep enough cash on hand to get through the day, I elected to buy only a small vase that matched one I had at home. Although it wasn’t an antique, it was something that I could never have found if I’d gone looking for it specifically.


The find of the day, however, had to be our photographer’s discovery (and purchase) of an American flag with 48 stars—the perfect backdrop for future photo shoots.


OLD SOUTH STAINED GLASS AND ANTIQUES, EUSTIS


LEIGH: Eustis was our next stop, where we found the delightful Old South Stained Glass and Antiques. Not only is the place filled with incredible new stained glass creations, the first thing you see is a beautiful pump organ from Beckwith Organ Company in Chicago (circa 1920). Bob Treen, the owner of the shop, told us he had two of them that came from sisters who had received them from their mother. The women are now in their 70s and must downsize, so they’re selling the ornately carved organs.


Bob has an eclectic collection of goodies, with most of his antiques displayed in the downstairs area. You just walk down a flight of creaky steps, and you’ll find rooms filled with treasures. The most enjoyable one for me was filled with old toys and children’s books. The “Extra Large Donkey Game” claimed it included 25 party games. Tons of fun, no doubt.


Bob had lots of Coca-Cola items,  a Max Headroom lunch box, and an old wooden case. Nothing brings back memories like the favorite stuff from childhood. I used to love the little bottles of Coca-Cola with peanuts in them. Never did that? Must be a Southern thing.


MARY ANN: While Leigh headed toward the organ on one side of the entryway, I headed in the opposite direction toward a large, round wrought iron decorative circle that I immediately knew would be perfect in my dining room. I was afraid to look at the price tag, but was pleasantly surprised by its $20 price—similar pieces usually sell for much more. Bob, the owner, was quick to point out that the piece was not an antique or even vintage but just an interesting well-made décor item.


Old South Antiques is housed in a former church that was built in 1948. When you walk down stairs, you can just imagine the lively parish hall and Sunday school rooms. This is where I found a copy of The Elementary Spelling Book (copyright 1906). I can’t resist old children’s classics, and this slightly worn edition now occupies a place of honor on my desk. A real treasure at only $5.


PAK-RATZ, MOUNT DORA


LEIGH: Not only is Pak Ratz a great place to find antique treasures, it’s just a wonderful store to browse in. Everything is presented in a setting where its beauty is enhanced.


Jeff first discovered a treasure that I snapped up as soon as I saw it. A lamp made of a pedestal desk-top phone with a working dial created quite a buzz among the three of us, because I had mentioned earlier I wanted to find an old phone. It was $17, and since my former-telephone-man husband collects old phones, he loved it!


MARY ANN: When you drive into Mount Dora, it’s hard to pick just one antique shop. You could, in fact, spend an entire day just perusing all the antique stores in historic Mount Dora. I had been to a charity auction run by Pak Ratz earlier in the month so I wanted to see the store, which has been in downtown Mount Dora for 15 years and in the present location for two.


Pak Ratz’s merchandise is so beautifully displayed that you automatically assume it’s all going to be high-end. We found some unusual pieces that were very reasonable. And, of course, there are some high-end things that would enhance any home. I had my eye on a lithopane tea set that matched a piece given to me by my grandmother. While I didn’t buy it that day, I’ve certainly thought about returning when my budget allows.


THE GARDEN GATE TEA ROOM, MOUNT DORA


All this shopping created three hearty appetites and just around the corner we found an oasis: The Garden Gate on East 4th Ave. in Mount Dora. Recommended by an antique shop owner, we walked through the restaurant’s well-manicured courtyard into a cottage that was tastefully decorated with small tables. After a delicious lunch of salads and sandwiches, we relaxed and reflected on our purchases and anticipated our next stop.


UNCLE AL’S TIME CAPSULE, MOUNT DORA


LEIGH: This must-see shop in Mount Dora is full of wonderful memorabilia and good times. Inside you’ll find unique items featuring stars of the 40s, 50s, and 60s like John Wayne, Betty Boop, and Lucille Ball. The hilarious scenes featuring Lucy and Ethel can be found on lunch boxes, posters, photographs, and much more. If you’re a movie or music fan, you’ll love this place.


MARY ANN: One of the best parts of antiquing with friends is reminiscing about all the things you remember from your youth, like Roy Rogers and Dale Evans lunch boxes or Beatles posters. Stopping to talk to “Uncle Al” Wittnebert is a treat in itself—from his time sponsoring traveling shows to hosting celebrities at Uncle Al’s over the last 20 years.


“My wife created this image and I wanted to do something fun,” he says about his intended retirement to Mount Dora. “We have enough stuff to last 70 years.”


Although many of the items are replicas, they are definitely clever and unique. The store is a walk down memory lane, and even more so when Uncle Al hosts former celebrities every other month. In December, former actress Karolyn Grimes, who played Zuzu in Jimmy Stewart’s It’s a Wonderful Life, will be on hand to greet visitors. And, who knows, every time the door opens and the bell rings at Uncle Al’s, maybe an angel will get its wings.


VICTORIA’S ANTIQUE WAREHOUSE, LEESBURG


LEIGH: Victoria’s Antique Warehouse is as unique as the custom-designed pieces that you will find inside. When you walk in, you notice that the historic building—once the home of Leesburg’s newspaper and later a Chrysler dealership—is filled with unusual furniture that somehow looks old and new at the same time.


Old furniture pieces are made serviceable for today’s uses. They are beautiful yet functional.


MARY ANN: Owner Vicky Murphy and her craftsmen take vintage pieces and find new uses for them. For instance, on a previous visit I saw a large foyer bench that was made from a piece of a ceiling tin with old beadboards for the seat and shelf. Hooks at the top were a functional place to hold backpacks or coats. Another piece—a large armoire—was made from shutters that once flanked a window in Paris.
 
The store also makes furniture, restores it, or can use parts of an item to create a whole new look.


GRACE’S BOOKS & RECORDS, LEESBURG


LEIGH: Grace’s is one of my favorite Leesburg spots. It is filled, and I do mean filled, to the breaking point with books, records, artwork, and fun! Owners Frank and Sue Grace are great detectives when it comes to finding rare books.


You can wander through bookcases for hours and find books on almost any subject or by your favorite author. They also have some wonderful vintage records. I shared a story with them once about the Broadway play, Camelot, being the first one I’d seen as a child, and they immediately produced an album from the musical.


“We really have a lot of stock now because we just received an entire library from an estate sale,” Sue says. “I’ve been working day and night getting everything cataloged.”


On this day, I found novels by Robert B. Parker that I didn’t have and quickly bought them.


MARY ANN: I was embarrassed to admit that I had never been to Grace’s, but I will definitely return. I began the day with a budget but blew it once I found this treasure among the treasures. This book store ranks well above many used book stores that I’ve visited in much larger cities. Sue and Frank encourage sitting in one of the store’s secluded nooks and spending time thumbing through used books that look like they’ve not been opened much.


Having just read about Julia Child’s life in France, I found a pristine two-volume set of her classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking—long since out-of-print and hard-to-find. My husband, the real cook in the family, would love this for Christmas I decided as I took out my credit card.


For myself, I found an old copy of The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. Before I could get to the register, however, Sue said, “Follow me.”


She led me to a special cabinet where she had stashed away a beautiful copy of the book that included color illustrations by painter N.C. Wyeth. Although it was not a first or second edition, the book was beautifully bound and quite a bargain at $20.


When we left Grace’s in Leesburg, we paused at our cars to reflect on the day’s shopping expedition. Had we proven that Lake County surpasses other parts of Florida as a mecca for antiques?
 
As we surveyed our purchases—both unique and reasonably priced—we think we did.


For information about all of Lake County’s fabulous antique shops,
please visit www.lakecountyfl.gov/enjoying_lake_county/antiquing.aspx 


Directory of Lake County Antique Shops and Boutiques


Corner Nook Antiques
252 N. Donnelly St.
Mount Dora, FL 32757
(352) 383-3788


Cottage Art Work & Antiques
606 N. Donnelly St.
Mount Dora, FL 32757
(352) 735-2700


Hen’s Nest
127 W. Washington St.
Minneola, FL 34715
(352) 242-9484


Morning Glori Antique Mall
1111 S. 14th St.
Leesburg, FL 34748
(352) 365-9977


Old South Antique Mall
320 S. Grove St.
Eustis, FL 32726
(352) 357-5200


Old Village Antiques
439 N. Donnelly St.
Mount Dora, FL 32757
(352) 383-1820


Oliver’s Twist Antiques
404 N. Donnelly St.
Mount Dora, FL 32757
(352) 735-3337


Pak-Ratz
317 N. Donnelly St.
Mount Dora, FL 32757
(352) 385-1990


Princess Antique Mall
130 W. Fifth Ave.
Mount Dora, FL 32757
(352) 735-2394


Renninger’s Florida Twin Markets
20651 US Hwy 441
Mount Dora, FL 32757
(352) 383-8393
www.renningersflorida.com


Southern Gardens
712 W. Main St.
Leesburg, FL 34748
(352) 323-8603


The Clock Shop
1107 Bay Street,
Eustis, FL 32726
352-357-9150


Thee Clockmaker’s Shoppe
110 W. Fifth Ave.
Mount Dora, FL 32757
(352) 735-5200
www.theeclockmaker.com


Umatilla Antique Markets
811 N. Central Ave.
Umatilla, FL 32784
(352) 669-3202


Uncle Al’s Time Capsule
140 E. 4th Ave.
Mount Dora, FL 32757
(352) 669-3202


Victorian Rose
600 W. Main St.
Leesburg, FL 34748
(352) 728-8668


Victoria’s Antique Warehouse
113 N. Seventh St.
Leesburg, FL 34748
(352) 728-8668


Village Antique Mall
405 N. Highland St.
Mount Dora, FL 32757
(352) 385-0257
www.villageantiquemall.com


When Pigs Fly
121 N. Highland St.
Mount Dora, FL 32757
(352) 735-1555


Yesterdaze Antiques
823 E. Fifth Ave.
Mount Dora, FL 32757
(352) 735-4876


Historical Museums, Libraries, and Monuments in Lake & Sumter Counties.


The Dade Battlefield Historical Site
200 CR 603 South Battlefield Drive
Bushnell, FL 33513
(352) 793-4781
www.floridastateparks.org/dadebattlefield


Eustis Historical Museum
536 N. Bay St
Eustis, FL 32726
(352) 483-0046
www.eustishistoricalmuseum.com


Historical Society of Tavares
121 Alfred St.
Tavares, FL 32778
(352) 343-7252


Lady Lake Historical Society Museum
107 S. Old Dixie Highway
Lady Lake, FL 32159 
(352) 259-4359
www.ladylake.org/historical


Lake County Arts and Cultural Alliance
20763 US Highway 27
Groveland, FL 34736
(352) 429-4755
www.lakecountyfl.com


Lake County Historical Museum
317 W. Main St.
Tavares, FL 32778
(352) 343-9600
www.lakegovernment.com/historical_museum


Leesburg Heritage Society
111 S. Sixth St.
Leesburg, FL 34749
(352) 365-0053


Mote-Morris House
1021 N. Main St.
Leesburg, FL 34748
(352) 435-9424
www.leesburgflorida.gov/history/mote_morris.aspx


Royellou Museum
450 Royellou Lane
Mount Dora, FL 37257
(352) 383-0006


South Lake Art League
776 Montrose St.
Clermont, FL 34711
(352) 394-8878


South Lake County Historical
Society Townsend House
480 West Ave.
Clermont, FL 34711
(352) 394-6611
www.historicvillage.org


Sumter County Historical Society
PO Box 1621
Webster, FL 33597

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