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Old memories get a new home

Memories Antiques relocates

What's commonly known as the old Union Club in the 97-year-old Main Street building is now an antique shop, featuring antiques from England at low prices.

— — BUSINESS CARD

Name: — Memories Antiques

Specialty: Antiques from England

Location: 126 W. Main St., Medford

Phone number: 772-3228

Owners: Judy and Don Lacey

Hours: Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-5p.m. — Closed Sunday — —

And the place looks much, much different than people probably remember it.

Memories Antiques, previously located on Ivy Street, moved into the former bar earlier this month. The 6,200-square-foot building is not only a historical backdrop for wares from yesteryear, but it's also much bigger than the former location, allowing the shop to expand its inventory and have more room for display.

But it took a long time to get it into the shape it's in today.

Owners Judy and Don Lacey -- Don is principal at North Medford High School -- bought it last August and have spent the months since doing extensive remodeling. The building was in terrible shape, Judy said. So much so that she figures 50 people said they wanted to buy it, but wouldn't because they were overwhelmed at the work that needed to be done.

The building was showing its age. After all, it had housed various businesses through the century including the Bijou Theater, a barber shop, the Union Club, Christian's Beer Parlor, Tiny's Cafe and Club Cigar. Wooden flooring covered with layers of plywood and linoleum became warped over time and needed to be ripped out. The place smelled of alcohol and smoke.

It hadn't had any tender loving care, she said.

The Laceys had a new staircase put in, as well as new plumbing, duct work, heating and air conditioning. They put in wooden structural support beams to comply with earthquake requirements, and 14,000 pounds of custom-made steel braces for the beams.

They stripped the walls of their wallpaper and plaster to get down to the original brick. Dumpster after Dumpster of debris was hauled out. They also added a back room in a part of the building once open to the sky -- and the pigeons.

The new showplace's antiques are all from England; Judy said American antiques are getting harder to find and are more expensive. The store has a lower profit margin so that inventory will turn over faster and more people will be able to afford the pieces.

One of the costliest items in the store, a solid mahogany sideboard (used as buffets in dining rooms), is priced at $975.

More predominant in the store are armoires, called robes by the English. A solid oak one sold for $375. The shop keeps at least 50 robes in the store at a time, and people don't use them just to hold clothes. Shoppers also convert them into entertainment centers and gun cases.

Robes were used in England because those who had closets built in their homes were taxed as if they had an extra room.

Because antiques appreciate in value, Judy said if people get tired of an item, they can sell it and at least get their money back.

Besides sideboards and robes, shoppers can find leather suitcases, sewing machines, a hand-painted trunk and even an oak organ. There are stained-glass windows taken from homes in England. There are old chimneys, which some people buy to use on their homes or as planters.

The shop gets its pieces from a dealer in England who's been exporting for 30 years. His antiques are stored in two warehouses -- 40,000 and 17,000 square feet. Once the pieces are packed, it takes about a month get them to Medford, traveling by ship, train and then truck.

Judy said a second trip to England is in the works soon to buy antiques. She's looking for unusual pieces, more robes and also some special orders for customers. Several people want her to find library tables, and one person is asking her to find an ornate, carved Victorian sideboard from which he'll make a bar.

Trips to England aren't always necessary to buy the antiques, though. Judy can also order pieces from the dealer by looking at digital photos over the Internet.

Craftsmen come into Memories Antiques, admiring the woodwork from a time long before the Internet and the use of pressboard. They admire the craftsmanship, the detail, the dovetailing (the way drawers are put together) and the special woods such as burl and maple.

The low prices also draw admiration, especially from people who live out of state. Customers from Arizona, Texas and Wyoming who were visiting in Medford saw antiques in the shop and said they would have cost three times as much where they live, Judy said.

They each rented a U-Haul to bring the antiques home.

After some serious remodeling, an old Medford building was ready for Memories Antiques.