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A Different Perspective

Antique Restorations repairs and restores all sorts of wood items, not just furniture and antiques. They handle statuettes, vintage electronics, picture frames, curiosities, and other items too.

Article
Michele Chiappetta
Photos
Chelsi Fisher
Posted
August 28, 2018

Across the road from popular Marshall Brewing Company over on Sixth Street in Tulsa, you’ll find an unassuming yet fascinating business known as Antique Restorations. As its name indicates, the shop repairs antiques — but the story of the store and its owner, and a look inside its walls, is more intriguing than you might expect.

Owner Tony Brown started Antique Restorations 46 years ago, and the business is still going strong, a testament both to the love people have for their furniture and other possessions and to the love Brown and his sons, Sam and Cole, have for wood-working. Like many of Tulsa’s multigenerational businesses, Antique Restorations has moved locations a few times, starting on Harvard Avenue, then switching to 15th Street, before settling into its current location.

Brown has had a love for working with wood for a long time. The interest in antiques came a little later, and so did his interest in repairing them. “My first wife turned me on to antiques,” he says. “I bought a fireplace mantel, and it just fell apart on the way home. So I restored it, put it all back together and made the missing pieces, and that’s what got me the bug.”

Antique Restorations repairs and restores all sorts of wood items, not just furniture and antiques. (Photo: Chelsi Fisher)
Antique Restorations repairs and restores all sorts of wood items, not just furniture and antiques. (Photo: Chelsi Fisher)

Antique Restorations repairs and restores all sorts of wood items, not just furniture and antiques. They handle statuettes, vintage electronics, picture frames, curiosities, and other items too. Their services include caning and rushing, stripping and refinishing, upholstery, frame repair, trunk restoration, and antique radio repair. They also buy and sell furniture.

And they’ll tackle unusual, challenging requests that require a mix of creativity, artistry, and clever problem-solving. As an example, Brown points out an Oriental horse statuette about a foot and a half high. The horse was missing pieces, he explains, so repairing it meant lot of intricate carving and shaping of small pieces of wood. “I had to make the front teeth, the ear, the leg, and I had to make it look old,” he says. The statuette now stands perfect and shiny as burnished bronze.

Another unusual request that Brown tackled? “A wooden tombstone from 1640,” he says. “It was a mold for a tombstone. I restored it.”

Tony Brown (Photo: Chelsi Fisher)
Tony Brown (Photo: Chelsi Fisher)

Brown has even restored a 1910 Pullman train, a job he came by pretty much like any other job he gets. “Some guy asked me if I could restore his train,” he says. “It took about six months of work, with just me and Theresa [a former employee].”

With a decades-old business, Brown has performed his share of interesting restoration projects around the Tulsa area, lending to its historical feel. As an example, he restored all the paneling at Harwelden Mansion about 20 years ago. “We had to sand it. We had to stain it back and then finish it. It was a process,” he says.

Much of the work Brown and his sons do has an artistic element to it, just like the horse statuette. It takes creativity and a good eye to bring out the unique characteristics of each item. And that eye has helped Brown to be a collector of antiques as well.

“I used to be a picker for 20 some odd years for antique distributors,” he says. A picker is someone who hunts for and snaps up good deals on antiques for resale, and it involves plenty of traveling. He’d find and resell stained leaded glass windows in St. Louis, among other things. He got out of picking after he had children and wanted to be closer to home. Many of the pieces, he’d keep.

Brown still maintains much of his antique collection, which includes beautiful, well-kept pieces like cedar chests, ice-cream parlor chairs, a birthing screen used by the mother of George Patton, Victorian lady rosewood table legs, a camelback chest from the 1860s, and much more. These days, Brown says he’s more in the market to sell pieces than to buy them. If you’re a collector too, then he’s definitely someone you want to talk with.

Today, Antique Restorations still performs plenty of restoration projects. But antiquing isn’t as much of a draw for people these days. The Browns supplement their work by building entirely new furnishings for customers. And they’re not afraid to work in all kinds of wood — walnut, oak, mahogany, poplar, everything you can imagine. They can also fix more modern styles of furnishings, such as cane furniture, and can do intricate work like repairing basket-weave mesh, spider-webbing, and other issues common to wood chairs.

LOCATOR
Antique Restorations
1757 E. 6th St. | Tulsa
918-585-3800
antiquerestorationstulsa.net
Monday-Friday: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Saturday: By appointment only
Sunday: Closed