In 1971 Richard and Barbara Woodard opened Sir Richards Fine Art Center in Waterbury Center. 50 years ago! Richard had dabbled in the antique business during his college years and had been a partner in The New England Shop in Burlington with Mark Ducharme; Mark is now the owner of The Buggyman Antique Shop in Johnson. Richard’s background is in art and art history; he studied fine arts at Laval University and at the Academy De La Grande Chaumiere in Paris for two years. As well he worked in clothing design in Montreal, all the while buying and selling antiques.
After meeting Barbara and marrying in 1969, Barbara readily fell in love with the beauty of pieces from our past. Sharing their knowledge with their customers has been their biggest goal. They believe knowledge of history and antiques will always enrich one's life.
Barbara became pregnant with their first child at the time her dad, Rev. Philip Chase, former state hospital chaplain and pastor of the Waterbury Center Community Church, was selling his home and moving to serve the Stowe Community Church. Barbara had always loved the area and the sale of her father’s house prompted them to settle in Waterbury Center to raise their family. Additionally, they knew Route 100 would be one of the best locations in Vermont to operate a business. It was an ideal situation.
Richard sold his share in The New England Shop and they purchased the Rev. Philip Chase property for $15,000.00. Richard then sold his Corvette and Barbara sold her MG to invest in a Jeep pickup truck for the business. After a lot of hard work, Richard putting on a new roof and homasote and board siding, Sir Richards Antiques opened its doors in October 1971.
Richard and Barbara were auctioneers and Barbara was a real estate broker for over 30 years. She sold much of Waterbury's history, including Luce's General Store, Gilman's Pharmacy, and many households and properties along Route 100. They also did antique appraisals throughout Vermont, using experts in different fields when they lacked specific knowledge. For their appraisals and auctions, they used their own expertise in the fine arts, glass, porcelains, paintings, and furniture, however they used Paul Willard in the field of coins and Vincent Fernandez in the field of Oriental rugs to assure a proper and fair market value.
In 2003 Richard and Barbara decided to semi-retire. They retired from the auction and appraisal business, but kept their antique shop, apartments, and self-storage business. In 2006 a fire destroyed their large three-story antique building, however, thanks to the fire departments from surrounding areas all the apartments and side buildings were saved. They were in the process of building their self-storage business when this occurred. The town allowed them to continue their business in one of the storage buildings until they could demo and rebuild their antique shop. The shop is now 5,500 sq. feet, full of our past heritage from sculptures to paintings, 18th century furniture, rare porcelains, silver, jewelry, and more.
They are fortunate their daughter, Tuanya Dunster, has been at their side throughout the years and so the business continues. Taunya enjoys assisting customers with questions and helping them gain understanding about pieces they own. Taunya handles all the Internet and websites for the businesses.
Whether a buyer or someone who likes to browse and learn about antiques, the family’s hope is to offer people the opportunity to enjoy some of our history. Our history is a critical part of our evolving future. This is what they offer to Waterbury.