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A world awaits behind the gate

The Iron Gate is a treasure trove of antiques and new pieces arranged in room settings. Ruth Devine (shown) and Erin Wyatt offer expert service and provide back stories for their items. They encourage visitors to make themselves at home.  - Julie Busch photo
The Iron Gate is a treasure trove of antiques and new pieces arranged in room settings. Ruth Devine (shown) and Erin Wyatt offer expert service and provide back stories for their items. They encourage visitors to make themselves at home.
— image credit: Julie Busch photo

Antiques abound on Ericksen Avenue.

The Iron Gate offers the charm and allure of a grown-up dollhouse.

The newly opened antiques shop features a welcoming facade, numerous spacious rooms and beautiful furniture that its owners – Ruth Devine and Erin Wyatt love buying and showing off.

“Your home should be a place for your soul,” Wyatt said. “I would like people to feel comfortable here. Not a lot of pressure. I want to give them a place to feel good and get ideas.”

Devine and Wyatt use their large space on Ericksen Avenue to great advantage, arranging room settings that will change as their mood and the pieces they acquire dictate. Currrently, the offerings are 80 percent English.

Each setting has a theme that is as stylish as it is inviting and mixes the old and the new.

By design, the pieces are placed so that people can see what they can look like in their own home, Wyatt said.

The “garden room” is the long glassed-in entry with slate flooring, iron bistro tables and chairs in summer green and turquoise and paintings by local artists.

Because it is uncluttered, the interior makes it easy for visitors to take their time examining each item, which Devine and Wyatt encourage.

In deciding on a piece, Wyatt asks herself: “What do we need to get to really showcase that? Do we love it? If we love it, we buy it.”

They enjoy sharing the provenance of their acquisitions with visitors and take pride in their knowledge and the low-key, excellent customer service they provide.

Devine, who has a managed care practice, and Wyatt, a veteran of the retail business, have been friends for years. The idea to open a shop together has been in the works for nearly three years.

Devine grew up surrounded by antiques and worked many estate sales with her mother.

“This has been a dream since I was a little girl,” she said, adding that she looks at antiques as something “you really love, but you can use.”

To this end, every chair in the shop is “man proof.” Even a man who tops 6 feet can sit in every chair and be comfortable, she said, except the piano chair.

Furnishings primarily come from auctions and estate sales. The rooms grow from the pieces that come in. For instance, an elaborately carved rosewood, pre-World War II table from Hong Kong with inlaid mother-of-pearl and 10 matching chairs started the Asia Room.

A bedroom features an oak bedroom suite with brass accents, circa 1840, paired with a side table that originally was a washstand.

Another bedroom offers an original spool bed that has been in Devine’s family for more than 60 years. She called her siblings for permission to sell the piece.

Accent pieces include a Victorian mirror, an authentic Fenton lamp in an unusual yellow hue and a low, plush hornback Victorian armchair.

Other rooms display a post-Civil War century oak cabinet, an English coal box, African walnut tables and an upright display case, as well as an assortment of Victoriana jewelry and glass art.

Wyatt, who spent 17 years with the Nakata group helping design their stores and handling human resources duties, welcomes helping people show off their antiques, those they already own and those they purchase at The Iron Gate.

“I hope (the shop) inspires them to go in there and get their antiques out of the garage,” Wyatt said.

“The shop is for visitors and islanders, Devine said.

“We hope to keep things very fresh and fun.”

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Step right through

The Iron Gate is located on Ericksen Avenue; a ca. 1829 black gate marks the spot. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday; and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Call 842-1706 for information.

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