Ask any contractor, interior designer, or set decorator where they find their most unique artifacts and chances are good they’ll point you to Architectural Antiques in Northeast Minneapolis. The 25,000-square-foot shop is packed with vintage light fixtures, ornately carved fireplace mantles, and creaky old postal boxes. These things would be kissing wrecking balls and hugging trash heaps if AA hadn’t saved them.
Though you may not be in the market for a Gothic arched window or wedding cake chandelier, gawking is half the fun. We love wandering the aisles, dreaming about the walnut Art Deco bar we’d install in the hotel we’ll never own; what our living room would look like with a clergy chair in one corner and an upright piano harp in the other; or how 7-foot-tall Alpha and Omega stained glass panels might go over in a guest room.
AA’s lighting options are especially strong. One of the shop’s most valuable pieces is a 29-foot-tall mixed metal chandelier plucked from the University of Minnesota’s old Northrop Auditorium. For 80 years, that chandelier kept company with the likes of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Herbie Hancock; for $90,000, it can be yours.
Of course, the salvage sells more affordable lighting, too. On a recent visit, we fell in love with a stepped Art Deco milk glass pendant from the 1920s, priced to move at $425, and a hexagonal tiered church chandelier from the 1950s, tagged $580. If that still seems steep, consider that every light sold here has already been cleaned, rewired, and fully restored. All you gotta do is hang it.
Final shout-out goes to the staff, who really knows their stuff. Point to any random object and they’ll tell you when it was made and how it was used, plus its period, style, and historical significance. Their expertise runs deep. Take Bob, for example, who works in the “house jewelry” department two days a week. The former architect has a passion for hardware, and once designed summer homes for Gwyneth Paltrow and Naomi Watts. Isn’t that the kind of guy you want helping you pick out a cast bronze door knob?
1330 Quincy St. NE, Minneapolis, MN; 612-332-8344.