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Antiques

China and glassware will be just two of the many different types of items offered at this weekend’s event. Photo by Catherine Quinlan

Spring is in the air and that means its time for the return of the Port Jefferson Historical Society’s largest fundraiser, the Port Jefferson Antiques & Garden Weekend Show to be held this weekend, April 23 and 24 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Returning for its ninth year, the Village Center will once again be filled with antiques and collectibles from over 40 vendors, including the society’s consignment shop and the flower boutique of the Suwassett Garden Club.

Antique seekers and collectors from Long Island, Connecticut and surrounding areas anticipate attending this annual event co-sponsored by the Village of Port Jefferson. Visitors from across Long Island Sound will be offered a two-for-one passenger walk-on discount from the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company.

All three floors of the Village Center will feature veteran vendors as well as new ones whose merchandise ranges from country, primitive and fine furniture, china and glassware, jewelry, quilts, vintage posters, art, books, paintings, garden furniture and other eclectic items.

The Suwassett Garden Club’s trellised boutique will greet visitors as they enter the Village Center. Hanging baskets, plants and patio tubs will be for sale at reasonable prices. An array of spring annuals will be set up outside for eager gardeners.

The popular 50/50 raffle and donation table has been organized by Kate von der Heyden and will offer some attractive prizes from vendors, advertisers and society friends.  Be sure to bring in your raffle stubs and checks to be in the running!  The raffle will be drawn Sunday afternoon.

The third-floor café, again chaired by Barbara Cassidy and Christine Spanbauer, promises an enticing menu of sandwiches, sides and drinks. Lunch with your friends in this sunny setting overlooking the harbor area. For dessert, select some homemade goodies at the Suwassett Garden Club’s baked goods table, arranged by Donna McBrien and Kate Thomas. Admission to the event is $6.

This yearly fundraiser relies on volunteers from both the society and garden club. The Mather House Museum complex on Prospect Street benefits from this large event. For further information or to volunteer for tasks including setup on Friday, April 22, or breakdown on April 24, please contact co-chairs Catherine Quinlan (631-428-6467) or Sandra Swenk (631-473-3253).

A view of the inside of Peter Nettesheim’s Huntington home. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Peter Nettesheim embodies the idiom “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Step inside his Huntington Town home and it’s nothing like it seems from the outside.

Picture this: You walk through an ordinary front door, expecting a small foyer or hallway to meet you. But as your eyes adjust from the natural light, all you see are warm wood and soft lights reflecting off of dozens of different pieces of metal. No side table or closet for jackets. You become more confused before you begin to understand what you’re looking at. A second ago you were on a residential road, listening to someone’s leaf blower start up. The next second all you hear is a model train driving by overhead and The Jackson 5 playing softly in the background.

Nettesheim is the proud owner of more than 100 BMW vehicles. Although many are in storage, his home boasts an impressive portion of the collection. Motorcycles cover most of the floor space, along with trophies, antique gas dispensers and even a few vintage cars.

A view of the inside of Peter Nettesheim’s Huntington home. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
A view of the inside of Peter Nettesheim’s Huntington home. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Jay Leno and Billy Joel have visited Nettesheim’s home, as well as more than 100 other private visitors each year. He calls it “his little sanctuary.”

Hints of Germany linger everywhere. A German greeting hangs from the ceiling and a mannequin named Elka stands in traditional German clothing sporting a dirndl, which is like an apron. Nettesheim explained that according to German tradition, the cloth signifies whether a girl is single or spoken for, depending on whether it is tied with a knot to the left or right. Elka is currently single.

In one corner sits the oldest BMW motorcycle to date, with a confirmation from BMW hanging above it. Across from it is a fully stocked bar, with several glass bottles of Coca-Cola personalized with Nettesheim’s name.

“My wife found those for me,” Nettesheim said.

This space is intimate, so it fights the feeling one gets at famous places like the American Museum of Natural History. One can literally sit at the bar and have a drink while gazing at relics. In one corner stands the oldest BMW bike in history, in another, a couch sporting pillows adorned with phrases like “man cave.”

Still, there are touches that make it feel like an established museum. Several motorcycles have backdrops behind them that display information about the particular model standing in front of it. Historic black-and-white photos of people riding old BMW bikes are also featured on the walls.

Nettesheim said the American Motorcyclist Association asked him to curate a BMW exhibit for its Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum in Ohio in 2010. His backdrops are straight out of that exhibit. Nettesheim chose all of the information and photos on the backdrops when he designed the show.

A view of the inside of Peter Nettesheim’s Huntington home. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
A view of the inside of Peter Nettesheim’s Huntington home. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

He said he didn’t take any money for the curation.

“I do this for fun,” he said. “This is strictly my hobby.”

Nettesheim is driven about his pastime and expressed surprise that many who visited his museum didn’t share the same kind of enthusiasm for a hobby — especially the younger generation.

“I never really understood that,” Nettesheim said.

The bike collector said that in conversations with his visitors he was caught off guard to learn that many had no hobbies of their own.

“There’s nothing that engages them, there’s nothing that they see and want to know how this works and how it’s made.”

He said he worried that his own hobby, shared by mostly the older generation, would eventually die out. “Most people you meet at biker clubs are not young guys.”

Despite the future of motorcycle collecting, Nettesheim remains driven by his passion. His father, a Mercedes-Benz car collector, has greatly influenced him. Nettesheim purchased his first BMW motorcycle when he was about 20 years old and fell in love with bikes ever since.

“I wake up in the morning and I think about the collection,” Nettesheim said. “There’s something I want to do. Every day I want to get home and get next to the bike and take something off it or fix a tire. It’s in me. I have a passion for it.”

Nan Guzzetta's collection of 1920s accessories. Photo by Ellen Barcel

By Ellen Barcel

Coming off the Spirit Tour in Setauket and Halloween, Nancy Altman “Nan” Guzzetta is preparing for the Dickens Festival in Port Jefferson — preparing costumes that is. As owner of Antique Costumes and Props By Nan in Port Jefferson, she provides high-end costumes for a wide variety of events including entire shows, themed weddings, historic anniversary celebrations and a whole lot more. Upcoming events for which Guzzetta will provide costumes include “The Music Man” in East Northport and the Santa Parade and Santa’s Workshop in Port Jefferson to name just a few.

Nan Guzzetta’s famous pincushion. Photo by Ellen Barcel
Nan Guzzetta’s famous pincushion. Photo by Ellen Barcel

Guzzetta’s attention is to detail, historical accuracy being her strong suit. “We don’t do Disney or Star Wars,” but Henry the VIII, that’s another story, or Gatsby, Titanic or Downton Abbey inspired pieces. “I work with museums a lot, for their galas.” When the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook opened its recent Gilded Coast exhibit,  “I costumed people for the gala.” And, she added, “Oheka Castle has a big garden party every year. I costume for that.”

The Dickens Festival honoree was “costumed yesterday,” she added. And “we did the 350th anniversary of Smithtown … we did a descendent of Bull Smith.” Richard “Bull” Smith is said to have drawn up the boundaries of Smithtown in the 1600s when he rode a bull around a tract of land.

Other costumes available include classic movie stars, ancient Egyptian and Roman outfits and even Marie Antoinette. She also provides all sorts of accessories such as fencing foils for the Musketeers, art deco jewelry to go with early 20th century ball gowns and fancy hats to complete an ensemble. She even provides hat pins to hold the elegant head pieces in place.

Antique Costumes is located in a historic Civil War era house, the Captain Henry Hallock house. Hallock was a Port Jefferson sea captain and shipbuilder. The house is sometimes referred to as the Chambers Mansion as it was later owned by Dr. Martin Luther Chambers. The mansion was also the home at one time of the Moose Lodge and the Slavic Cultural Center.

The mansion has a fascinating history all its own. In the 1970s the English band Foghat recorded a number of its gold records there. Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen also produced recordings at the mansion. Guzzetta added that it was one of the foremost recording studios in the Northeast at the time. The building also has a stage where live productions were once held.

Nan Guzzetta's medieval costumes with headpieces. Photo by Ellen Barcel
Nan Guzzetta’s medieval costumes with headpieces. Photo by Ellen Barcel

Costumes in the mansion are arranged by theme: the children’s room, the Downton Abbey rooms, the wedding room, the red carpet room, the Renaissance room, etc. Tucked between costumes is a door leading to Guzzetta’s personal research library. And through the passage way is the theater.

Filled with energy and a fount of knowledge, Guzzetta said, “Isn’t this fun?” as she showed one room after another filled with costumes.

Many of the events she costumes for will hold prizes for the best costume, Guzzetta said. “I can boast that we have more prize winners than any other.”  She added that a man recently rented a Christopher Columbus costume. He was asked to lead, not only one or two, but six different Columbus Day parades. “He’s sending us pictures.”

But, she also added that “We’re the best kept secret,” around. Why? Because many people don’t like to share their secret. They want people to think that they make their own elegant and historically accurate outfits.

When asked how things have changed over these 40 years that she’s been in business, she noted that “It’s changed dramatically.” There are fewer themed weddings, for example, but there are many more historic celebrations, like a 100th anniversary celebration in Cold Spring Harbor last year. She recently designed a costume for a book on Nikola Tesla, the 19th century Serbian-American inventor whose Shoreham, Wardenclyffe, laboratory is currently under restoration.

Guzzetta added that with the Internet, her business now is not only local but national and even international.  People sometimes rent here and bring the costumes to “Venice for Carnival or New Orleans for Mardi Gras.” She accommodates magazine and greeting card shoots, as well as commercials. She even rents vintage furniture.

When asked when is her biggest season, Guzzetta observed that the need for her high-end costumes is really spread throughout the year. In planning large events people contact her “well in advance,” but “Halloween is frequently last minute.” But Halloween is not just for kids. More and more adults are attending masquerade balls and parties where costumes are a must.

From Nan Guzzetta's collection of Americana uniforms. Photo by Ellen Barcel
From Nan Guzzetta’s collection of Americana uniforms. Photo by Ellen Barcel

Not only does Guzzetta have costumes, ready to be rented, but “we built them,” as well. “Over the years we’ve collected many vintage items … we rarely rent out the vintage ones,” now, but use them as models for new pieces. “I collect the best of every period and rent it.”

How does she deal with all the different sizes and shapes of her clientele? In some cases, she has several different sizes of a particular costume. In others she will alter them to fit. “All alterations are done here at no extra charge.” In other cases, she does what many theater productions do: There’s a slit in the back and the costume is laced up to fit the wearer. And, if she’s “building” a new costume, she has the renter’s measurements. Usual rental for individuals (it varies for theater productions) is three days, one to pick up the costume, one for its use and one to return it.

“We do teas and tours here,” too. The tea service can include a tour of the restored mansion or a tour and lecture, the group’s choice.

How did Guzzetta, who was a registered nurse, develop such a unique business? A lover of art and history, she opened an antique shop in Port Jefferson acquiring some costumes. But, “when I couldn’t get any more vintage costumes, I began renting (rather than selling) them and then making copies.” But for her, it’s not really work at all. “It’s a joy to come in every day.”

Antiques Costumes and Props by Nan is located at 709 Main Street, Port Jefferson (parking off Jones Avenue). Call 631-331-2261 or go to www. antiquescostumes.com. The business is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays by appointment only and weekends in special circumstances.

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Andrew Schipper and his husband Joe are two of Kings Park’s newest business tenants after opening a “newtiques” shop on Main Street, bringing a different flavor to the hamlet. Photo from Andrew Schipper

By Rachel Siford

As customers walk into the store, they hear Pink Martini songs playing through speakers. They smell candle incense burning and see displays from around the world.

They must be in Wormhole ANDtiques.

Located on Main Street in Kings Park, Andrew Schipper opened the shop in February. The store has recently grown in popularity through his own Facebook following.

“I don’t believe in antiques, we like to call them newtiques,” Schipper said. “There is something for everyone in my shop.”

Schipper described his store as “Brooklyn hipster” and “kitschy.”

“Everything in here, I wouldn’t mind having in my own house,” Schipper said.

Schipper lived in North Carolina for 20 years and worked in interior decorating and sold his merchandise at flea markets. He is now from Glen Cove and originally had a similar store in Bellport when he first moved back to New York a few years ago. Recently, he made the move to Kings Park for more space.

Schipper said he is very interested in the global market and has products of Moroccan, Hindi and Asian design. He also carries a lot of local work.

Wormhole ANDtiques in Kings Park has lots of different types of merchandise. Photo by Rachel Siford
Wormhole ANDtiques in Kings Park has lots of different types of merchandise. Photo by Rachel Siford

His husband, Joe, is a painter and makes lamps and other fixtures too. Joe Schipper made a lamp of plumbing pipes and old telephone insulators.

“Joe is the money behind the store,” Andrew Schipper said as he described his husband, who also works as a software engineer. “It is amazing to have someone so supportive in my life.”

His eclectic mix of merchandise includes decorative plates, luggage, jewelry, “Mad Men”-era inspired goods, paintings and a variety of other things. He acquires items through estate sales and high-end boutiques.

“It really is my passion,” Schipper said. “I want to give this town a new breath of life.”

Andrew Schipper said he and his customers strongly believe in supporting small local businesses. He said he wants Kings Park to be the type of town people can walk around on Main Street and go into shops.

Schipper also said he takes pride in the display of the store.

“Everything is always very organized,” Schipper said. “You’re not going to find any of this kind of stuff at Walmart, or have this good of customer service.”

Saturday, June 20, was the annual Kings Park Day festival in town. Main Street was full of vendors and local stores displaying their products, along with many fun activities for children and live music. Wormhole ANDtiques had eight tables set up in the street, all displaying his variety of merchandise.

“It has been a lot of hard work getting this store up and running,” Schipper said. “I am here day and night.”

The store is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., with Schipper staying the whole time, plus more.

In the back of the store there is a pop-up sale by Gina Louise Designs and Kerri Rowles, both Kings Park residents. These two designers and decorators display their handmade merchandise in a special section of the store.

“I want to offer nightly events and a creative outlet for local artists and talents,” Schipper said.