Speaking of Antiquing – by Tracy Baird, Sterling Creek Antiques
At Sterling Creek Antiques in downtown Jacksonville, we encounter stories every day. Many of the stories we hear are specific and detailed, and are the ones that leave a lasting impression because they are stories of personal histories.
My folks moved our family to the Rogue Valley when I was twelve, drawn by the beauty and history which they were always interested in, especially the Old West. We would often take history-themed vacations to places like Virginia City, Nevada, Cody, Wyoming and the 49er Trail in California. It was that foundation that led me to become a historian and also explains why I found myself drawn to historic Jacksonville over and over.
My love of history is what made me jump at the chance to work with my friend Joelle Graves, doing historical research on the Orth Building that houses Sterling Creek Antiques on the corner of California and Oregon Streets. It also led to helping design the shop into historical vignettes, researching artwork and decorative arts, and appraisals. The best part, however, is getting called in to speak with someone who owns a cherished item and hearing “their” story.
One such item that recently came into Sterling Creek Antiques was a toddler carriage from around 1860-70, identified as belonging to the Chavner family, who founded Gold Hill. The toddler would lay inside the carriage that was driven
by a goat or dog. The Chavner’s goat pulled the cart so that Mrs. Chavner and her children could walk around Jacksonville and carry their sundries without worrying about carrying the little tot. The carriage even has the whip that one of the older siblings used to insure the goat didn’t take off with the baby. That carriage was used for three of their five children and has a story… a personal story and history that has now been retold. And when someone purchases that carriage, the Chavner family story will be passed with it and retold.
The Chavner carriage at Sterling Creek Antiques has an interesting history. John Orth leased a butcher shop in the original California and Oregon building near the old Brunner parcel in 1864, and in 1865 purchased the shop which was attached to the City Brewery. In 1872, to the dismay of many, he demolished the 1856 landmark and erected the two-story building that stands today. Orth then used the brick wall of the building next to it, (now The Cotton Broker) from the toddler carriage’s owner, Thomas Chavner. Today, Chavner’s carriage is on display in the window closest to the brick wall that Orth once held an interest, a story and history that’s now come full-circle!
Working with historic artifacts allows me to fulfill my passion as a historian, and enables me to hear about what the item meant to the person bringing it in. Even more exciting is passing that story on to the visitors in the shop. Stories help make antique stores modern museums, enabling one to peek through a window of personal history. Nowadays, my full-circle story is that I’m now working in Jacksonville doing what I love while preserving history one story at a time.
Tracy Baird is an art and architectural historian and owns TABulated Consulting. She assists antique shops and individuals with historical research, appraising, and estate planning and sales. She lives in Medford with her husband, Brett, and their puppy, Sawyer, amid hundreds of books.
Posted September 13, 2013