Happy Birthday to Ann Lee, Founder of America's First Shaker Settlement in the U.S.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Happy Leap Day everyone!  Today is a special day.....a gift, an extra day in our year, one we only get once every 4 years.   It's my daughter's birthday today.....but it's also someone else's birthday.  In fact it's the birthday of a famous person in history, and especially in our local history.  Today is the birthday of Ann Lee, leader of the Shakers, specifically the first Shakers who settled in the U.S. in an area now known as Colonie.  Today is her 280th birthday!

Ann Lee was born on February 29, 1736 in Manchester, England.  Her original surname was Lees, but over time it became Lee.  In 1758 Ann joined the Wardleys, an English sect founded by Jane and Preacher James Wardley; this was the precursor to the Shaker sect.   She believed in and taught her followers that it is possible to attain perfect holiness by giving up sexual relations.  Although she believed in celibacy, her father forced her to marry Abraham Stanley.  Ann and Stanley had four children, all of whom died in infancy, further contributing to her dislike of sexual relations.  Lee developed radical religious convictions that advocate celibacy and the abandonment of marriage, as well as the importance of pursuing perfection in every facet of life.  Ann also felt strongly about gender equality.  She was often characterized as virago - a woman with masculine, domineering attributes.


Ann had a difficult time in England as a result of her attempt to gain followers.  She was imprisoned for treason and refused to sign an oath of allegiance.  Once released, witnesses say Ann performed a number of miracles, including healing the sick.  While in prison, Ann had a vision of travelling to the new world to establish a new religious society.  According to Wikipedia:

"In 1774 a revelation led her to take a select band to America. She was accompanied by her husband, who soon afterwards deserted her. Also following her to America were her brother, William Lee (1740–1784); Nancy Lee, her niece; James Whittaker (1751–1787), who had been brought up by Mother Ann and was probably related to her; John Hocknell (1723–1799), who provided the funds for the trip; his son, Richard; James Shepherd, and Mary Partington. Mother Ann and her converts arrived on 6 August 1774, in New York City, where they stayed for nearly five years. In 1779 Hocknell leased land at Niskayuna, in the township of Watervliet, near Albany, and the Shakers settled there, where a unique community life began to develop and thrive."

The Shaker Heritage Society exists to recognize and preserve the area where this piece of history took place.  In addition to educating, the society works hard to inspire a deep appreciation for the history of America's first Shaker settlement and the benefits of historic preservation.  Last summer we visited the Shaker site on several occasions, mostly to enjoy the beautiful botanical/physic garden. Aside from the beauty of the large variety of plants grown here, reading the history of the uses of each plant was particularly entertaining.  I collected a number of photos over the summer and today, in honor of our local Shaker founder, Ann Lee's birthday, I want to share them with you along with a few photos of the settlement.

Click on individual photos for a closer look.
















Ann's husband abandoned her soon after they arrived in America.  Ann then changed her name back to her maiden name, Lees.  Ann died on September 4, 1784 at the age of 48.  She is buried at the Shaker Cemetery.



Of course, you know this is not where the Shaker history ends, but I think it's pretty cool to know such an interesting piece of history is right in our own back yards.  This summer I hope you'll take time to pay a visit to the Shaker site which also includes the Ann Lee Pond Nature Preserve (featured in an earlier blog post, link included at the end of this post).  Or you can visit Hancock Shaker Village in Hancock, MA (also featured in this blog).  It's good to remember we don't have to travel out of state to take in a little history lesson, it's just around the corner!  There's so much more to read about the local Shakers, so if you want more, use the links provided below to learn more, including the local Shaker Society and their Facebook Page, both full of interesting information both from the past and of current educational events, craft fairs and more!

Enjoy your extra day.....use it to tell some person in your life why they are significant and tell them about Ann Lee too!  Thanks for reading.  Come back soon to Life As I See It.



Elderss Anna White - another powerful Shaker woman.


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Enjoy a Little Time Travel When You Visit Black Sheep Antiques!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

I've discovered an interesting phenomenon as I age.......the older I get, the more I love old things. You've probably heard me say that before here on the blog.  I remember back in 1972 when my Mimier (my dad's mom) died, I could have had anything I wanted of hers but at 18 I didn't have the maturity or foresight to think ahead.  All I knew I wanted at that time was her desk, the old secretary type with the dropdown front.  I'd spent hours playing in that desk as a little girl and vividly remember watching Captain Kangaroo before school while pasting S & H Green stamps into their collection book so they could later be redeemed for some household item.  I still have that desk today and wish I'd kept more of her things.  Luckily my mom was wiser than I and knew enough to hang on to some special keepsakes.  It took me many years from her passing to begin to value family heirlooms but for a long time now, I've really started decorating more with sentimental memorabilia and vintage things.  Compared to new stuff that is easily acquired and put together in a perfectly coordinated room that looks like a magazine cover, my collection of sentimental old stuff reminds me of my youth and of my family members who are no longer with us.  It's fun to be reminded, to reminisce, to rekindle.....and this week when we visited another antique shop to add to the series I've started, that's exactly what we did....reminisced and rekindled - memories of items we remembered from the 'old days'.   Whether you collect family heirlooms from your own family or just love vintage in general, you must visit today's feature shop where I promise you'll be amazed at how many familiar items bring back memories for you.   Like this one....

Black Sheep Antique blog post

Today's feature shop is Black Sheep Antiques in Delanson.  I understand Black Sheep Antiques has been around for many years but about five years ago was purchased by Lana Pedelsky and her partner, Reed. What I loved about the shop (well, besides all the stuff I wanted to buy) was the size of it.  Black Sheep is huge and covers multiple levels and is divided into sections featuring goods from several vendors. The other thing I loved about it was how reasonably priced things were.  If I had a u-haul with me and a bigger house, I really could have made a killing because I saw several pieces of furniture, beautiful furniture, that I would have loved to bring home - all affordable to the average shopper.   I also loved how many items just really hit a nerve and brought back so many fond memories - like the typewriter above.  I learned to type on something that didn't look so much different from this one.   Well, it was a bit younger than 1915 model, but many of its features were just like ones I learned on. (Thank God ours in high school were electric, not manual.)  But I did have a manual one at home. If I had had a spot to display this, I would have bought it in a heartbeat.

Then there were pieces like this one...........which was just downright amusing.  We had fun speculating where it may have come from and how funny the grandkids would react if we put it in our foyer.  Hard to tell from this photo, but this handsome guy was about 3 feet tall and perhaps just a little intimidating!


I wish I could have included 100 photos in this post to give you a better idea of all you can find there, but hopefully you'll look closely at the ones I am including.  In fact, if you click on them individually, they'll appear larger and help you get a better look.


These are window screens from an old church!  I bet all you DIY'ers will have a million ideas for them!

If anyone knows what the item on the left is.....a butter churn, maybe??

Fox anyone??  My granddaughter was really inquisitive about his photo.  Apparently she's never seen the work of a taxidermist before, but she was certain she didn't want it in Grandma's house!


Look at that dry sink on the left - gorgeous!!!! Only $175 I think.....Love it!!  Wanted it!  Why is it when we're young and need furniture, we can't afford it and when we can afford it, we don't have room for it!   



How about a little mid-century modern???  Just one corner of this cool space!
This porcelain-top table & chairs....beautiful condition - $130


Gorgeous (wanted this too) $28.
The original juicer (I think)!

This is just a few of the loads of old cameras there - any camera collector would be in heaven!




Not exactly the type of cars or trikes today's kids have but pretty cool to look at!


And some more cameras...........


I hope I was able to convey just how cool Black Sheep Antiques is.  From the old flip down toasters, to enamelware pieces, to vintage clothes to vintage books......anything you can imagine from the past is probably somewhere inside of this building.  A walk through here will take you back to your youth and bring back memories of your grandma's house.  Bring your piggy bank and an empty trunk and head west and visit Black Sheep Antiques soon.  It's an easy drive just past Duanesburg at 7608 Western Turnkpike (Route 20) in Delanson, NY.



And I did buy one thing....this perfect condition enamel pot.  Not sure what I'll use it for, but it matches the enamel basin I have so how could I resist ;)


For more information, check out their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/Black-Sheep-Antique-Center-183245055022158/?fref=ts

They're open everyday 10:00-5:00!


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Falling Into Wonderland at Silver Fox Salvage

Monday, February 22, 2016

So who doesn't like a treasure hunt?  And who doesn't like beautiful things?  Well if you were wandering around the warehouse district in Albany, NY and say, fell into Alice's Rabbit Hole, you might find yourself smack in the middle of the most enchanting wonderland filled with beautiful and inspiring things.  That's exactly what happened to us yesterday........well, maybe it wasn't an accidental fall, but it was definitely a visit to wonderland!  The "Alice" of this wonderland, Camille Gibeau (co-owner) was gracious, warm and welcoming and most definitely an enthusiastic hostess of her magical kingdom.....a kingdom otherwise known as Silver Fox Salvage.


Almost immediately as soon as I published my post about Second Chance Barn in Granville, people began to tell me about Silver Fox Salvage.  We'd never heard of it.  In fact as I've said before, whenever we've watched HGTV and have seen cool salvage stores, we've always expressed disappointment that it was too bad we didn't have any locally - WRONG!!!  Boy were we wrong!!  I did a little research and pretty immediately contacted Camille asking if we could feature Silver Fox in the blog and luckily she was thrilled to accommodate us.  Before I show you the photos, let me give you a little background into Silver Fox's history........

Silver Fox Salvage was the brainchild of Dr. Fred Shapiro.  Dr. Shapiro loved antiques and salvage since he was in his early 20's when he began collecting and repurposing objects into new pieces.  He began Silver Fox Salvage in 2005 and around 2007 he partnered with long-time friend, Camille, and together they grew the business into the 10,000 sq ft. warehouse where it makes its home today. Named after Fred's father, Silver Fox has grown and evolved over time, at one time it even housed a coffee shop and other small vendors until it eventually settled into its current state -  one huge warehouse of antiques, reclaimed wood, parts and pieces of everything, and beautiful creations of re-purposed items.  Dr. Shapiro passed away in 2013 but Silver Fox continues in business thanks to Camille and her partner Jaime Walton, along with a team of talented craftsmen.

Silver Fox specializes in architectural salvage, extraordinary lighting, and antiques.   Although Silver Fox Salvage is a warehouse full of old treasures, one of their main claims to fame is their talent for creating custom pieces from reclaimed material.  Here's a few examples of such pieces...



Look closely - this table base is an old stove!
The trumpet above has been crafted into a floor lamp!  I'm pretty sure you won't see another one like it anywhere!
Silver Fox not only custom creates beautiful furniture, like the round table in the photo below....
Yes....that is a live cat sitting on the table.
they do much bigger projects as well - all using reclaimed wood.  For instance, they crafted the tables at the City Beer Hall in Albany, the display shelving at the Troy Ace Hardware, the wooden cafe enclosure at Fred the Butcher in Clifton Park, and a whole list of commercial properties too long to mention here, including Druther's, the Twisted Vine, Placid Baker and many, many more.  Be sure to check out their website later under Past Projects - you've probably seen their work and didn't even realize it!  Camille even gave us a tour of behind the scenes where all the magic happens (and raw talent and hard work) to create these gorgeous pieces.......
Notice the custom-made barn doors......I wish you could have seen them in person!! If you're a big HGTV viewer and have been wanting barn doors that are all the rage...now you know where to find them!

Here's a tiny peek at just a few of the treasures you'll see when you visit.......















Need a hinge, a doorknob?  You name it, Silver Fox has it!


If industrial lighting is your thing - you're in luck....this is just a minute fraction of their selection.



One of Silver Fox's other specialties is custom lighting.  In addition to the hundreds of 'use-as-is' lights all around the warehouse, Silver Fox specializes in creating you a custom lighting fixture.  In addition, they carry a gigantic assortment of glass globes to match any lighting fixture ever made (at least that's what it seems).

Silver Fox Salvage is truly an adventure in an antique and salvage wonderland.  I promise you can spend the afternoon, browsing every nook and cranny, and every lap around will reveal something you missed on your first go 'round.  In fact....just before we were about to leave, after several times through the warehouse, John spotted this.....
This is for a fireplace...it's a heat plate, used to absorb and reflect the heat from the fireplace.  This particular heat plate actually belonged to John's mom and dad.  It was given to them by John's brother.  When John's mom passed this summer, no one in the family had use for this piece, so somehow it ended up here at Silver Fox!  What a coincidence!

If you love antiques and have a Pinterest board filled with ideas just waiting to be implemented using salvage pieces, you must make a trip to Silver Fox Salvage soon!  I promise you'll feel like you've stepped into a wonderland from long, long ago.    To help you complete your project, Silver Fox also houses Victoria's Corner which carries Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint.

 If you have something you've been dreaming of but can't quite put it on paper.....let the folks at Silver Fox help make your dream a reality - first on paper and then in the perfect piece you could only dream about.  They have the vision, the talent and the material to make all your ideas come to life.

Silver Fox Salvage is located at 20 Learned Street, in Albany's warehouse district, off Erie Boulevard.  They are open Tues-Sat, 10:00-6:00 and Sunday 10:00-4:00.  Be sure to check out their website for more information including photos of more of their beautiful custom pieces!


Thank you Camille for your hospitality and for sharing so many stories and details about Silver Fox.  I know I haven't included them all in this post, but hopefully I've highlighted most!  Besides....we've got to leave the readers some surprises, right?   

Thanks for reading and be sure to share this with all the antique lovers you know.  And come back soon to Life As I See It where you never know where life will take you!

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