The first time I read about Carol Hicks Bolton, in a magazine in the late 1980s, was the first time I’d really heard anything about Fredericksburg, Texas. The description of the German heritage of the historic small town, and the photos of the architecture of the soft, white, limestone buildings of the area, intrigued me. And Carol’s work, her flair for creating personal, elegant interiors with what was, at the time, an almost unheard of combination of fine antiques and rustic and tattered objects and materials, was unique.
I put Fredericksburg, and Carol’s store on my list of places to visit and finally made the trip to the Texas Hill Country in early December of this year. The first stop I made as I pulled into town was at Carol Hicks Bolton’s Antiquities, her newest retail venture. I’d just read about the new store in Jo Packham’s Where Women Create magazine and that had once again piqued my interest.
Antiquities is big. The 15,000 square-foot interior is spare and elegant, filled with an eclectic collection of antiques and linens, with furnishings, books, ephemera, natural objects like bones and rocks and antlers all beautifully displayed. Sunlight streams through the windows and the open door.
I could have happily spent the rest of the day looking at every little thing in the store but unfortunately I was on a schedule, with more stops to make before checking into my guest house.
Since Carol home-schools her children, she wasn’t there. But I was able to talk to her husband Tim, who’s been by her side as she built the business. He gave me plenty of room to explore and shop, but any time I had a question he was there with an answer.
Since time, and space in my suitcase, were limited, I decided to focus on the rows of iron shelves filled with old books. And almost immediately I found my prize: a 1929 'Les Guides Bleu' guidebook to Paris. The small book is filled with maps, delicate little works of art all on their own, and when I opened it the pages fell almost immediately to a map of the neighborhood where my favorite hotel, also built in 1929, still sits. I’ll be at that hotel in a few weeks, celebrating the new year in Paris with my youngest daughter.
I closed the book already knowing it was mine.
Treasure hunting, when done right, is like eating dessert. It’s sweetest when you have only enough to leave you wanting just a bit more. That’s just how I felt when I walked out, the vintage book in my hand.
Just as I suspected I would when I first read about it, I loved everything about Fredericksburg and the surrounding Texas Hill Country. And the time I spent exploring the objects Carol Hicks Bolton and Tim Bolton have gathered and brought back to Texas was memorable, as well.
I have the feeling this was only the first trip. I’d like a little more, please.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance travel journalist based in Spokane, Washington. Her audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org