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Glaskowsky & Co. finally sells antiques untouched for years

  • The interior of Glaskowsky & Co. antique shop at 180 Main St. looked just like this for over 30 years as the shop sat untouched. The contents are being auctioned off Sunday. PHOTO COURTESY OF GEORGE LEWIS.

    The interior of Glaskowsky & Co. antique shop at 180 Main St. looked just like this for over 30 years as the shop sat untouched. The contents are being auctioned off Sunday. PHOTO COURTESY OF GEORGE LEWIS.

  • The interior of Glaskowsky & Co. antique shop at 180 Main St. looked just like this for over 30 years as the shop sat untouched. The contents are being auctioned off Sunday. PHOTO COURTESY OF GEORGE LEWIS.

    The interior of Glaskowsky & Co. antique shop at 180 Main St. looked just like this for over 30 years as the shop sat untouched. The contents are being auctioned off Sunday. PHOTO COURTESY OF GEORGE LEWIS.

  • The interior of Glaskowsky & Co. antique shop at 180 Main St. looked just like this for over 30 years as the shop sat untouched. The contents are being auctioned off Sunday. PHOTO COURTESY OF GEORGE LEWIS.

    The interior of Glaskowsky & Co. antique shop at 180 Main St. looked just like this for over 30 years as the shop sat untouched. The contents are being auctioned off Sunday. PHOTO COURTESY OF GEORGE LEWIS.

  • Chad Devine, left, and George Lewis stand in front of the former Glaskowsky & Co. antiques shop at 180 Main Street in Easthampton Wednesday. The contents of the store will be auctioned Sunday at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School.<br/> JERREY ROBERTS

    Chad Devine, left, and George Lewis stand in front of the former Glaskowsky & Co. antiques shop at 180 Main Street in Easthampton Wednesday. The contents of the store will be auctioned Sunday at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School.
    JERREY ROBERTS

  • The interior of Glaskowsky & Co. antique shop at 180 Main St. looked just like this for over 30 years as the shop sat untouched. The contents are being auctioned off Sunday. PHOTO COURTESY OF GEORGE LEWIS.
  • The interior of Glaskowsky & Co. antique shop at 180 Main St. looked just like this for over 30 years as the shop sat untouched. The contents are being auctioned off Sunday. PHOTO COURTESY OF GEORGE LEWIS.
  • The interior of Glaskowsky & Co. antique shop at 180 Main St. looked just like this for over 30 years as the shop sat untouched. The contents are being auctioned off Sunday. PHOTO COURTESY OF GEORGE LEWIS.
  • Chad Devine, left, and George Lewis stand in front of the former Glaskowsky & Co. antiques shop at 180 Main Street in Easthampton Wednesday. The contents of the store will be auctioned Sunday at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School.<br/> JERREY ROBERTS

“Every time I would drive by that window, the display never changed,” Lewis said this week. “The store hadn’t been open in forever, but everything was just sitting there.”

Sure, a sort of frozen-in-time antique store display would pique his interest because he’s an auctioneer specializing in antiques and estate sales. But there was something else here entirely: He had heard stories of the Glaskowsky family over his 30 years in the business, and they intrigued him.

It was in 1944 that the Russian-born Nicholas Glaskowsky and his wife, Marian, opened the business in an addition off their Main Street home. They quickly became renowned in antiquing circles, according to Gazette archives.

After they died, in 1978 and 1983, their son Frederick took over the business. But he became increasingly reluctant to sell off any items in the store and did not have business hours, so he had only a few customers over the years. He finally took down the sign advertising the shop two years ago.

Due to his unwillingness to sell items or open the store since the early 1980s, almost all the antiques inside sat untouched on their shelves for about 30 years until Lewis got the call a few months ago to auction them off to pay for the medical bills and care of Glaskowsky, who now is 92.

Lewis said he has sold off antique shop inventories before, but never a collection like this one. He and his employees cleared five truckloads of precious antiques from the store, ranging from huge copper cauldrons for scalding pigs to leaded glass lamps and even a naval sword from 1864.

“Usually what happens is they sell off all the good stuff and they just want you to get rid of the junk that’s left over,” he said. “But that was not the case here — that’s what makes it unique.”

Chad Devine, 40, who lives next door on Main Street, has taken over caring for Glaskowsky, whom he calls his “adopted grandfather.” The 92-year-old is now living at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke and was not well enough to be interviewed, Devine said.

He said he has known Glaskowsky for his entire life and has fond memories of the antique shop.

“There was a Buddy L fire truck toy in the window, and as a child growing up it was one thing I always remembered,” he said. “Not seeing it in the window anymore is different. Maybe I’ll put a bid on it.”

A family business

Devine met the Glaskowskys as a child because his grandparents lived in the house next door, the place where he now lives. He couldn’t remember when he first heard the family’s history, but said it always intrigued him.

A young Nicholas Glaskowsky came to the U.S. in 1916 to purchase guns and ammunition for the czarist government. But in 1917, Czar Nicholas II was overthrown in the Russian Revolution.

“He was stuck here, he couldn’t go home,” Devine said. “And if he had, he probably would have been killed because he had worked for the czar.”

In the States, he met Marian Cook, a teacher in Springfield, and married her a year later. According to a 1967 Gazette article about the antique shop, Marian Glaskowsky had always loved antiques and she got her husband interested. They opened the shop, filling it with items they collected from auctions around New England.

Three of their four children moved away when they were grown, but Frederick continued living with his parents until they died.

When Glaskowsky, then in his 60s, was on his own, Devine, only 12, began helping him with lawn mowing, snow removal and house cleaning.

He described Glaskowsky as a “unique guy. He always kept to himself. It took me years to break through that ice with him,” Devine said. They eventually became like family.

And with Glaskowsky running the store after his parents died, things changed. He never really had open business hours, though Devine said people would call or knock on the door asking to come in to browse the collection. According to Devine, Glaskowsky started feeling attached to the items in the store — all of them — and had a habit of raising prices repeatedly, almost as if he wanted to ensure nobody would buy them.

“They felt like his personal possessions, so he couldn’t sell them,” Devine said.

The flow of customers became a trickle, until there were only a scant few, and people like Lewis assumed the store was essentially closed.

Meanwhile, the reclusive Glaskowsky continued living alone with help from Devine. Earlier this year he fell and broke his hip and that arrangement no longer worked.

When he was released from a rehabilitation facility on March 14, Devine left his job as an exterminator to care for Glaskowsky at his home. But after about 10 days — “and many sleepless nights” — it became clear that he needed to have professional care in a nursing home, Devine said.

Now that Lewis has removed the antiques, Devine is cleaning up the house, which he plans to keep up and possibly rent out in the future.

‘Eclectic mix’

Lewis said the truckloads from what he called “an antique shop time capsule” will be auctioned off Sunday at 11 a.m. at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School in Northampton.

Although they are now 30 years older than when they were last up for sale, Lewis said that doesn’t necessarily mean the prices will be higher. “The ’70s were the glory days of the antiques business, so they may not be worth as much as they would have been then. It depends on what it is,” he said.

He called it an “eclectic mix” of wood furniture, home furnishings, kitchenware, bronze sculptures, paintings, oriental rugs, toys, trinkets and other items.

He was disappointed not to find one thing among the antiques: a butter churn that he had eyed, but never purchased, when he visited the store those two times in the late 1970s.

“It was a really interesting shop,” he said. “They had everything.”

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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