Adamstown was orignally named "Addamsburry" after William Addams who designed the town's layout in 1761.
Although the town is known as "Antiques Capital USA," where visitors can find an assortment ranging from collectibles of early Americana to mementos of Europe's past, the town's association with antiques is relatively recent.
It began one summer in the early 1960s when a well-known Lebanon County dealer named Charles Wiek began holding outdoor flee markets every Sunday morning in a popular, wooded picnic spot called Shupp's Grove. These weekly flee markets quickly became so popular with the public that sellers from other states began hauling their wares to set up temporary shop each Sunday.
In the mind-1960s, Terry Heilman, manager of a local farmers' market called Renningers, came up with the idea of transforming the area into a year-round antiques marketplace. He decided to offer dealers indoor space in his building where they could extend their selling season into the fall and winter.
Merchants liked the idea that they could now conduct business on rainy and cold days as well as on warm sunny days. There was also the added benefit that they no longer needed to spend the time and effort in packing up all their merchandise and haul it off at closing time.
When spring arrived, many of the sealers decided to stay at Renningers year-round. So many, in fact, that Renningers Farmers Market changed its name to Renningers Antiques Market.
The success of Renningers Antiques Market inspired others to create their own antique markets. Most noteworthy is the antiques market opened by Ed Stoudt in 1971. An antique aficionado and restaurateur, Stoudt opened his antiques market in the basement of his popular restaurant, Black Angus Steakhouse.
The enterprise grew so successful that he built a separate building called the Clock Tower Antique Center within his business complex that goes by the name of Stoudtburg. Today, the wares of over 400 dealers can be found here.
Over the years as antique enthusiasts became aware of the great variety and quality of antiques available at Adamstown, dealers began to rethink their Sunday-only schedule. The problem is that, for many of the dealers, selling antiques is only a part-time job. They don't ordinarily have the time or manpower to staff a full-time selling operation. Moreover, the professional antique dealers also do not usually have time to spare for such enterprises since much of their time is consumed by traveling to find and buy new merchandise.
To solve the problem, some of the dealers decided to cooperate amongst themselves by taking turns covering the markets where their booths are housed. Although some of the town's antique shops are still weekend-only operations, many are now open during the week as well.
When you visit Adamstown, you will find both individual dealers specializing in a particular item, genre or era as well as co-op enterprises where a number of dealers operate their own booths in a single location. These co-ops are known as "showcase shops" because the dealers display their merchandise in glass cases.
The best place to start is along the "Adamstown Antique Mile," which runs north and south along Route 272, a short way from the Route 286 exit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Here you can find an abundance of rare antique wares and collectibles dating back to the 18th century on display and on sale from thousands of dealers.
When planning your visit, keep in mind that three times a year the town hosts weekend-long "Antique Extravaganzas" where the town is visited by thousands of dealers offering a huge display of antiques for collectors and sightseers alike.
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