The Town & Country Antiques building was built in 1885 and over the years has been used as a meeting hall, clothing store and theater. In the late 1800’s the first floor was renovated as an auditorium for the Lyric Theatre and the second floor housed the Grand Room where the International Order of Odd Fellows Lodge had their meeting hall. The theatre showed silent films and hosted vaudeville acts and competed with The Opera House which was located across the street where the Green building stands today. The building was owned by John Darbee and the street that runs from Main past the Downtown Barn bears his name.
The street level was returned to a store function as “Town and Country Sportswear”, and it’s distinctive geometric facade was constructed in 1953. Liberty suffered economic downturn as the resort industry faded and the building suffered, as well. In the 1990’s a Department of Transportation intersection improvement project slated the vacant and deteriorated property for demolition to build a parking lot. Luckily an action group of local residents investigated the history of the building and discovered it to be one of the oldest surviving buildings on Main Street.
In 2005 Eric Liepens purchased the building and in preparing the north side for painting and power washing, they exposed a ghost sign for Gold Medal Flour. It was under a coat of paint from the 1930’s and faux brick probably put on in the 1940’s. They were left with a decision: pretend like they didn’t see it or restore it. They were encouraged by many, such as the late Alan Berube to restore the sign. And what a beautiful restoration it turned out to be! As Mary Ellen says, “it is a part of the fabric of Liberty’s history.”
Being in the antique business the Liepens family is all about preservation. They are the “caretakers” of things that can be passed on to other generations to enjoy. Browsing through their store will bring back many memories, and browsers are always welcome. Visit them at 1 North Main Street in Liberty.
1 North Main Street, Liberty, NY