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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Treasure Hunting

First Finds: Rolane Hopper, The Vintage Barn

    Sometimes it’s hard to remember just when we fell in love. Was it at first sight, or did the feeling grow from familiarity and time spent together?

    Looking back, I can’t remember when I first fell for time-worn objects, for items that had a history beyond my own lifetime. Growing up in a family of collectors, I spent my childhood in a house filled with fascinating old things. It was an association I carried with me as I made my own way. When I left for school, my dorm room was decorated with an old lace tablecloth and a sterling silver bud vase. (I wrote about that in my first Treasure Hunting column in 2003)

    Now, my house is filled with family heirlooms or treasures that I brought home from an afternoon spent at the flea market. Some are as dear to me as any old friend.

    Recently, at an antiques show, as I talked to many of the dealers and collectors, I began to wonder just what triggered that love in each of them. So, I decided to ask. I sent emails to some of the people whose sense of style, entrepreneurship and creative drive, I admire. I asked them to tell me their love stories, to share the experience or object that stole their hearts.

    The responses were fascinating. I’ll be sharing them here on my Spokesman-Review Treasure Hunting blog and I hope you’ll enjoy them, too.

Honoring a Family’s History

Rolane Hopper didn’t just fill her home with relics from farm life. She bought the farm. When she and her husband purchased a 1909 house on the remaining 10 acres of what had been a 150-acre homestead in Rathdrum, Idaho, she knew she had found her perfect place. Hopper started blogging about her experience and promptly founded a successful antiques show held at the vintage barn on her property. When I sent out my query asking for junking love stories, she was the first to reply. Here’s what she sent:

    “I remember my first ‘find’ and the unexpected excitement I felt. I was 17 years old, living in Burbank Calif., when a friend invited me to a local auction. I was hesitant. I had always loved vintage clothing but had never really gotten into furniture. I started bidding on a HUGE old trunk, circa 1911. What I won at auction was a family’s entire history all locked inside this great old trunk. It fascinated me. The family Bible, birth, wedding and death certificates, photos, deeds to family farms. I still have it all. Including a beautiful picture of a girl, possibly on her wedding day.
    In a way it made me sad to know that this family gave this to auction. I thought the best I could do was honor and preserve the family memories as I found them.”

    See what a single bid at auction can do? For Rolane Hopper it was only the beginning. Now, she brings crowds to her home each summer to shop for their own vintage treasures. In addition to her own barn sale, she is a vendor at The Farm Chicks show in June and she sells a line of merchandise on her website.


  •     The next Vintage Barn sale will be held July 10 from 9am - 4pm  Click here for more information or to follow Rolane Hopper’s Vintage Barn adventures. 
  • To see photos of Rolane Hopper's trunk and contents, click continue reading...


Cheryl-Anne Millsap writes about antiques and collectibles and the love of all things vintage. Millsap's Home Planet column appears each week in the Wednesday "Pinch" supplement and she is The Spokesman-Review's female automobile reviewer. She is a regular contributor to Spokane Public Radio and her essays can be heard on Public Radio stations across the country. Cheryl-Anne is the author of "Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons."