There’s a passionate antique collector in The Plains who has amassed hundreds of rare collectibles over 40 years. She is slowly bringing numerous rare pieces out of storage and making them available to the general public. Her work – offered at Home in The Plains, 6482 Main St. -- is her customers’ reward.
Lillian Waters, 64, is an antiquarian searching for fellow antiquarians who will move history forward, one rare piece of Americana at a time.
As customers enter Home in the Plains, they will be greeted by Waters and a host of rare and historical antiques. She said, “Your first reaction in coming into the shop is likely to ask, ‘Is this a museum?’ There are no price tags on anything. Is everything for sale?’”
Indeed, everything is.
The collection showcases Waters’ interest in primitive, homemade style antiques, often dating from pre-Colonial America to the mid-1800s. “I do not go to auctions and just buy anything they drag across the stage. I only buy what I like. Often, it’s a one-of-a-kind item,” she said.
For starters, there is a pre-Civil War broom-making machine invented by an enslaved person. It was found on a plantation near The Plains, Waters said. Slaves could not legally marry, but one of the traditions in their culture was “to jump the broom.” The ceremony was a sign that the couple had formed a relationship and started housekeeping together. The invention provided a source of brooms for both practical and ceremonial use, Waters explained.
Another unique find: Two handmade fabric tables date to the mid-1800s and were used in the Morrisonville General Store near Lovettsville. There is also an inlaid desk with impressive brass fittings -- made in Paris, France -- that is more than 160 years old.
One of the larger pieces in the shop is a 6’ X 6’ mirror that originates from Russia. It came out of a D.C. mansion, possibly a diplomat’s home, Waters said. A mid-1800s British campaign desk that can be disassembled for travel and was used by officers during combat is also for sale.
There is a 3’ X 1’ foot military telescope lens case with brass corners and an oilcloth wrap that dates to World War II. The lens itself is on display at the Marine Museum in Quantico.
And there is the main horse tack trunk from a Middleburg estate. The trunk once held boots, bridles, blankets and more.
Most of the items are rare and expensive. Pieces range from a few hundred dollars to more than $10,000. These are serious antiques, representing extended travel and acquired over four decades.
Other items for sale are provided by two good friends and include a collection of beautiful mineral rocks and art from a talented artist.
Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Waters is half Irish and half Navajo-Spanish. As a youth, she saw much of the country serving duty as an Air Force brat. At age 16, the family settled in Virginia.
Today she lives in Middleburg. Before that, she had a farm in Fauquier County called Last Resort, which housed her first antique shop. Two years ago, she was widowed and last year she sold the farm.
“I went from 6,000 square feet of space down to about 1,200 square feet,” said Waters, describing Home in The Plains.
Antiques have always been her enthusiasm, she said, but working for Loudoun County schools for 18 years helped pay the bills; among her accomplishments was creating the county’s student field trip program. Later she turned to real estate, and today she is an active realtor for Washington Fine Properties.
The lady, however, has never rested on her laurels. Waters also owns Middleburg Wagyu, a purveyor of high-end beef originally raised in Japan. It’s known for its marbled appearance and exceptional tenderness.
She owns both the herd and a large farm in southern West Virginia, where the cattle are raised. The beef is wholesaled to regional restaurants, including Magnolias in Purcellville. The cattle are processed by Gentle Harvest Custom Processing, the only humane beef processor in Virginia.
Waters stores much of her antique collection at other properties she owns. As the shop depletes its current inventory, she will pull additional prized pieces out of storage.
“Anybody that knows me knows that I want everyone to succeed and be happy. Everyone. I will give you my last dollar and last pairs of socks,” said Waters. That said, do not look for her gifting her precious antiques. But she will negotiate.
The Home in The Plains is open each Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/homeintheplains/) for photos and more information on the shop’s inventory.