Heritage barn will be centrepiece of new business
The Villager – May 2014: By Kim Goggins
The heavy wood door has to be slowly dragged open to create a narrow entry point into the 19th Century barn. Some might say it’s dilapidated, fallen on hard times since it was last used, but not Steve Hinton.
After decades of restoring antique furniture and valuable items through Hinton Antiques, he has developed an eye for quality and the know-how to turn dusty old items into magnificent treasures. That is exactly what he plans to do to the former Ritchie barn and 15-acre property that is set back from County Road 169, across from Rama Road, in Washago. “I look at this and I can see what it will be. I know what it will look like;’ he says, noting that nothing will be changed without direction from his wife of 48 years and business partner, Wendy.
“I want to do it right the first time and not have to go back and change anything;’ he grins. Once inside, the barn is surprisingly clean, smelling of fresh cut lumber, and boasts updated wiring, some new walls and sections of new cantilever flooring.
Hinton smiles when he points out the recycled corrugated metal that was used on the outside of the ‘new’ addition, probably built in the 1920s. Visible from inside the barn, its nail holes indicate that the metal was recycled after being used for something else. Feed chutes used to send food to the animals below can also be seen throughout. But this is not really what Hinton sees. He sees one area that will house an art gallery for local artists to display their work. Another section will display unique dining tables and chairs.
The outside walls will consist of freshly stained board and batten, and sitting atop the six-inch roof of the lower-level concrete bunker, he envisions a screened-in porch with double doors that will extend out the back of the barn and entice visitors to sit out and enjoy the view – all without changing the original character of the barn.
“We promised the community that we would restore this, that we would bring this back towhat it was;’ he says, noting that they have also applied to the Township of Severn for a zoning change from agricultural to Highway Commercial. Community is important to the Hintons, and Washago, especially, because it’s where they lived when they first got married. Their successful business, Hinton Antiques, and their four daughters – Stephanie, Kirsten, Eden and Maegan – were all born while they lived on Green River Drive, and although they currently live in Atherley, they have a kinship to the people of this village.
The Hintons have been specializing in Canadiana antiques for 40 years. Not only do they have showrooms in Port Carling and Atherley, they also take their quality items to antique shows throughout Ontario and Quebec. More importantly, they are trusted to restore and refinish family heirlooms in a meticulous fashion, and their thorough evaluations help people establish an accurate value for their possessions. These are the services that will come with their latest store opening in Washago. But when, is the question.
An unforgiving winter has made it impossible to keep to the May Long Weekend opening that they had envisioned when they first purchased the property in November 2013. But that doesn’t seem to worry Hinton, who takes it all in stride, saying, “We’re open when we’re open. It’s just a matter of taking it one step at a time:’