What do a closed antique store, an abandoned theater and mercantile store, an empty church and barn quilts have in common in Pocahontas, IL? They all sparked the interest and imagination of Jennifer and Don Rick this past year. That interest has turned into some major renovation projects that are saving these old buildings and giving them new life. More about the barn quilts later!
On March 15, the Ricks purchased Pocahontas Antiques, which had been closed for a while. They reopened the store in May and now have 36 vendors selling primitives, antiques, crafts and much more. If there are any collectors or people hard to buy for on your holiday gift list, this is a treasure trove. Wander the aisles and you’ll spot beautiful dolls and vintage toy cars, trains and games. Around a corner might be a unique piece of furniture or shelves filled with glassware, ceramics, pottery, old kitchen gadgets, tools and more. Some items will take you back to childhood and visits to Grandma’s house!
A few blocks away, the Ricks purchased the DeLaurenti Building, which housed the Strand Theater from 1920 – 1949 and DeLaurenti Grocery from 1921 – the 1960s. The Strand was the major entertainment venue with Vaudeville shows and silent movies in the twenties and early thirties, then “talkies” beginning in 1936. Next door the market stocked all kinds of general store items and even sold ice cream – two scoops for a nickel. Mr. DeLaurenti would often throw in a third scoop for free.
The Strand will reopen in November as a 1930s-style event venue that can be rented for weddings, reunions, meetings, parties, even musical performances. The Ricks are carefully keeping as much of the original architecture as possible, including the ticket window and stage, while bringing it into the 21st century.
The former grocery store, now the Mercantile, will be ready in the Summer, 2018 stocked with merchandise from pre-1900 to the 1950s. Everything will be displayed as in the past with similar items grouped together; for example, cast iron, enamels, glass, etc. Artisans will offer handmade items like rag rugs, soaps and lotions and even honey from a local beekeeper. One corner will be devoted to nostalgic goodies like different kinds of candy, and eventually ice cream.
The third major renovation is the Methodist Church, which was built in 1912. The basement of the church is a shop called The Refined Cellar that is open Friday – Sunday from 10am – 5:30pm. Three women share the space stocked with antiques, primitives and boutique items like clothes, candles, scarves, etc. The Ricks turned the main part of the church into their home. They’ve retained the character of the building while adapting it with a kitchen, bedrooms and living room.
Now, back to those barn quilts! As you drive around town, keep an eye out for the Barn Quilt Trail. It started out with 38 painted wooden quilts made by residents and business owners and displayed on their property. Recently 40 more people met at the Catholic Church Community Center to create their additions to the Trail. Not only are they unique and fun to find, but Pocahontas is now on the Illinois Barn Quilt Trail!
Check Facebook @thestrandpocahontas for dates for the Treasures of the Trail Vintage Markets in June and October, which includes locations in and around Pocahontas. The Antique Mall is at 311 W. Johnson St. Open Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 6pm, Sunday 10am – 5pm. 618- 669-2969
Article is from the 2017 Holiday Tourism Times.Tags: antiques, barn quilt, dolls, history, market, renovations, updates