ANGOLA — Louise Swihart developed a love for antiques as a child, traveling with her mother to antique shows and auctions.
Her mother, the late Betty Dobles, operated the Cape Cod Shop in Fort Wayne, which stocked primitives and country antiques.
“I remember her taking me to auctions as a little kid,” said Swihart. “I did shows with her. My dad was into history. We always took historical trips to state parks and stuff.”
Swihart, a Fort Wayne native segueing to her rural Angola lake home with her husband, Steve, operates nine booths at three antique malls. Homestead Antiques, 185 N. Hetzler Court, Angola, is one of her main showcases. She contributes regularly to “Country Rustic” magazine and continues a passion for collecting primitive pieces.
Louise will share some of her knowledge about primitives on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Carnegie Public Library of Steuben County, 322 S. Wayne St., Angola, as part of the Angola Antiques Guild’s educational series. She is the second in a series that started in December with antique maps by Craig Benson of Angola. February’s speaker will discuss antique fishing lures.
The series launches the recently created guild toward its first summer antiques festival, scheduled for June 27 in downtown Angola. Anyone interested in getting involved in the guild may contact Barb Bryan at 667-0628 or Mary Baker at 668-6162. Membership forms can be picked up at local antique stores; membership costs $20 per year.
Louise and Steven met in the fossils lab at Indiana Purdue University Fort Wayne and both worked for decades as science teachers. Louise continued to study antiques.
“Mom had what I would call high country,” said Louise. The pieces were more refined and glossier, more showy than primitives.
Dobles and Madeline Mundy, the former owner of Barn Stable Antiques near Fremont, were best friends, said Louise, who is enamored by Steuben County’s past. One of her favorite pieces is a sign that reads “Munger’s Riverside Nursery, Nevada Mills.” It hangs in the Swiharts’ rustically decorated, cabin-style lake home, a memory from a business once operated by the late Lynn Munger, an antiques and primitives collector himself.
“I love wooden wear and baskets, textiles, pewter, tin, crockery,” said Louise. Primitives are pre-Civil War, mostly utilitarian items; “a lot of it made by hand, some one-of-a-kind,” she said.
Though she is an expert, Louise continues to learn, attending shows and doing research.
One of her prized possessions is a cupboard that belonged to her mother, purchased at the Golden Lamb Inn in Lebanon, Ohio, opened in 1803 and still in operation. The Golden Lamb has hosted a number of historical figures, including 12 U.S. presidents.
“It was put in the gift shop for sale,” said Louise. “She and Dad had gone to the hotel for 50 years.”
Louise will bring some of her collection to the library on Thursday and will explain their significance and how to find a treasure in the world of primitives.