Daytripping: Canonsburg is a City of Antiques

Nearby Canonsburg is a rare find for antiques collectors.




PHOTOS BY CHUCK BEARD

 

It’s 1795, and you’re just done with the shopping scene in Pittsburgh. So it’s marked “NEW!” in a shop window? You bought two last month. Snore. No whalebone corset or razor strop or dusty tin of Dr. Mash’s Cure for The Windy Rupture has escaped your eye. Ugh, that tricorne cap is so 1789. Nothing new here. You just … can’t … even.

So you hitch Ol’ Ned to the buggy and off you ride to Canonsburg — a shopper’s paradise just 20-ish miles southwest of Pittsburgh through the wild territory of Washington County. You arrive about four hours later.
 

  
Rare finds in Canonsburg antiques shops: fireman’s helmet, doll, WOODY

 

Early on, Canonsburg was a market town of some renown. Jefferson College was incorporated here in 1802, and  it quickly became the economic base of the county. Upper-class residents and well-to-do students spent their greenbacks at the shops, taverns and artisans’ workshops that lined the main intersection. A railroad that connected Pittsburgh and Washington brought big-city merchandise and even more shoppers.
 

  
tin toy, lighted sign, “Rinty” children’s book
 

Fast forward to 2016 and Canonsburg is still sitting pretty as a Pittsburgh neighbor-in-good-standing. You now can make that trip in about 30 minutes from Downtown if traffic is light. Called the “City of Antiques,” Canonsburg still attracts shoppers from all over the country for its antiques district.
 

  
more tin toys, photograph, mannequin, roulette wheel

 

We’re always on the lookout for antique cameras, and Canonsburg didn’t disappoint. We found a Brownie Hawkeye (pictured at top) at the Route 19 Antique Mall for $9, but the Canonsburg Antique Mall had a gorgeous Mamiyaflex twin-lens reflex for $225. Sure would make a great birthday gift for your scrappy travel correspondent …
 

  
slot machine, Victrola, clocks

 

In one afternoon, we visited nine antiques shops bursting with vintage goods, all within a five-minute drive. The Canonsburg Antique Mall specializes in clocks — big clocks, small clocks, grandfather clocks, alarm clocks — all ticking, ticking, ticking like the telltale heart. Vintage Secrets has a nook for steampunk collectors, Architectural Emporium features large-scale building fixtures and Where the Toys Are is filled with the playthings of your childhood.

It’s a week til payday so we spring for the inexpensive Brownie Hawkeye and head back to Pittsburgh. Giddy up, Ol’ Ned.
 

  
church icon and Iron City Beer bottles, Sarris Candies
 

Before you go, stop by Sarris Candies for the best in sweets. Big as a city block, the chocolate factory and ice-cream parlour has something for everyone, from boxed chocolates and chocolate-covered-pretzel-filled “BashCakes” to fondue kits and “Big Tyme Sundaes.”
 

Find It:

  • Antique Center of Strabane: 2510 Washington Road; 724/745-8445, antiquecenterofstrabane.com
     
  • Antique Junction: 2475 Washington Road; 724/746-5119, antiquejunction.biz
     
  • Architectural Emporium: 207 Adams Ave.; 724/746-4301, architectural-emporium.com
     
  • Canonsburg Antique Mall: 99 Weavertown Road; 724/745-1050
     
  • Pennsylvania Trolley Museum: 1 Museum Road, Washington; 724/228-9256, pa-trolley.org
     
  • Route 19 Antique Mall: 2597 Washington Road; 724/746-3277
     
  • Sarris Candies: 511 Adams Ave.; 724/745-4042, sarriscandies.com
     
  • Tri-State Antique Center: 47 W. Pike St.; 724/745-9116, tri-stateantiques.com
     
  • Vintage Secrets: 101 S. Central Ave.; 724/745-0200
     
  • Where the Toys Are: 45 W. Pike St.; 724/745-4599, wherethetoysare.com

 

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