PITTSFIELD – The first combined flea market, tag sale and crafts fair, a fundraising event held last weekend at Arrowhead, 780 Holmes Road, turned out to be successful as well as diversified and fun.
Twenty-plus vendors,who paid $25 a table, participated.
Arrowhead is the former home of New England writer Herman Melville. He wrote Moby Dick, among several other works, in an upstairs bedroom of the old homestead.
At the well-attended event, one could buy everything from Peruvian earrings, a Portuguese flower frog, and miniature acrylic paintings to glassware, handmade felt blankets and books by an author who was on hand to sign them, just to mention a few items.
Jana Laiz, Arrowhead’s writer-in-residence, as well as one of the event’s planners and a participant, said she left her Egremont home at 5:25 a.m. on the day of the event. When she got to Arrowhead at dawn, there was already a vendor setting up shop.
“It was a wonderful way to raise money for Arrowhead,” she said. “We are thinking of making it a monthly event next spring through fall.” It might be called the Arrowhead Antique Flea Market and Tag Sale, she said.
Ms. Laiz wore a shirt with last weekend’s event’s title, “I’d prefer not to keep this” Tag Sale, Flea Market and Crafts Fair.
Some of those words were originally coined by Mr. Melville in “Bartleby the Scrivener,” Ms. Laiz said.
She calls herself a “tag sale maven.” She thoroughly enjoys searching sales for treasures. Eventually, the time comes to re-sell items.
“You go around your house and see something that’s been around for 19 years and you no longer want,” she said, “so you let it go. You detach.”
Her own detached items were spread out on tables under a tent top and she said she had a great day selling things.
Event Proceeds to Help Finance Renovations
Betsy Sherman, director of the Berkshire Historical Society, which owns and operates Arrowhead, said all money raised will go toward extensive renovations of the house and barn that are currently taking place.
The house has been painted and a porch has been replaced with a replica of the original one, she said.
The renovation was supported, in part, by matching grants from the Massachusetts Historical Commission, the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund and the Susan Vaughn Foundation, according to Arrowhead’s website.
The grants totaled $80,000 and the final cost was at least $100,000, Ms. Sherman said.
The next renovation project will be installation of two handicapped restrooms in the barn as well as a redo of a kitchen and storage area, all of which, of course, cost money.
She concurred that serious thought is being given to making the flea market, tag sale and crafts sale a monthly event come next spring.
“We have enough property,” Ms. Sherman said.
Vendors at the event set up their tables on a lawn adjacent to the house on the Arrowhead grounds.
Everyone Had a Wonderful Time
Charles Flint, a well known antiques expert, owner of Charles Flint Fine Art and Antiques in Lenox, and a member of the Berkshire Historical Society Board of Directors, was on hand to do antiques appraisals.
“I think everyone had a wonderful time,” he said, of the event.
The Berkshire Historical Society has 10 people on the Board of Directors and it is growing, Mr. Flint said.
Vendors at the flea market came from all over the area. For instance, Ken Musselman, a lifelong artist and illustrator, traveled from East Canaan, CT, to sell his exquisite and detailed paintings.
There were New England scenes depicting flower-filled spring as well as icy, snow covered winter landscapes.
His web address is www.kenmusselman.com.
Author Sells Books at Event
Richard Matturro, an author of six fictional novels, sat behind a table filled with his books, all for sale.
He holds a doctorate in English and teaches literature in the English Department of UAlbany.
He lives over the border in New York State..
Mary Trev Thomas sat in a chair next to him on the lawn, welcoming potential book buyers. The author’s website is www.richardmatturro.com.
Sarah Formel of Great Barrington sold, among other things, intricately fashioned earrings from Peru.
She said her husband owns the junk yard in Housatonic. She has set up a small store in an office there where she sells jewelry.
The weather cooperated perfectly for the fundraising event, clouding over only in the afternoon.
As writer-in-residence, Ms. Laiz said she gets to sit at a desk in Herman Melville’s study and write her own novels and children’s books.
She also holds workshops in public schools from the third grade and up.
She talks with students on how people get inspiration to write.
Last year she did four workshops in the schools and she’s open to doing more this school year.
Walking on the grounds at Arrowhead is a heady experience for writers as well as just the curious. One can imagine how Herman Melville climbed the stairs in the homestead, went into his study and peered out the window at the hills in the distance.
The property and the house itself is a Berkshire County treasure. Fundraising events like the one last weekend assure that the needed renovations will be made so visitors can continue to enjoy a part of living history.