” A September afternoon, an elegant day out, an experience…an opportunity. If its treasure you’re looking for, you will find it at the Annual Antiques Show and Sale at the Waverly Community House.” (Sunday Sun, 1991)
In the early 1940’s, the Waverly Community House began holding what would later become one of its most anticipated events– the Waverly Antiques Show and Sale. This show, deeply rooted in the Comm’s history, began as a “white elephant” style exhibition which only contained approximately 11 vendors. These initial dealers mainly traveled from the Northeastern United States to showcase fine items such as: china, glassware and furniture. These early shows usually took place during weekdays; additionally, guests were invited to dinner at one of the nearby churches after spending the day antiquing. The first show was held in 1943 and steadily evolved until the final exhibition in 2012.
As with most events, the Antiques Show expanded in both size and scope over nearly seven decades at the Waverly Community House. As more vendors joined the Comm’s roster, items showcased also began to become more diverse and eclectic, suited to a broad range of styles and interests. Over the years, pieces featured in the show contained: silverware, dining sets, glassware, furniture, crystal, jewelry, art, knick knacks and many more unique objects for those attending to choose from. Another remarkable aspect of the exposition was the historic loan exhibit; each year, the show would feature a display consisting of genuine past antique materials in order to create a truly memorable experience. Interesting past loan exhibitions included: “Empire Period Bedroom Furniture (1950),” “the Victorian Drawing Room (1951),” Lilliputian Furniture and Antique Dolls (1966),” “Civil War Period Boudoirs (1973),” and “Costumes of China (1982),” to name a few. These fascinating exhibits undoubtedly added to the show’s vibrancy over the years and continued to draw many visitors.
Another interesting aspect added as the Antiques Show developed was the implementation of “Waverly Walking Tours.” In the 1980’s, guests were encouraged to participate in a historic walk around the four blocks surrounding the Waverly Community House with tour guide William P. Lewis of the Lackawanna Historical Society, and in later years, resident and architect, Ned Connell. These tours were focused on both the history surrounding Waverly, and the architecture in the local area. With the addition of the tours, along with the aforementioned loan exhibition, attendees were able to obtain a genuine glimpse of the past, which remained complementary to the theme of the overall show.
Over the years, the Waverly Community House Antiques Show evolved and developed in many ways to suit the needs of the community and its guests. What began as a small weekday show, eventually ended as a full scale weekend event with a large number of both vendors and visitors alike; the small dinners held at local churches were also replaced with gourmet lunches and preview parties as the show started its final run. In September of 2012, the Waverly Community House held its last Antiques Show with nearly 70 years of exhibitions under its belt; the Community House staff, volunteers, and Board of Trustees ensured that the final show remained memorable and served to commemorate the first show which transpired so many years ago. Nonetheless, the Antiques Show remains a crucial element in the Comm’s history and served to influence many shows and events that later followed. Currently, the Comm is working on reinstating the Historic Walking Tours with the addition of some crucial information pertaining to the Underground Railroad, which was especially significant in Waverly; stay tuned for more information regarding this upcoming project.