An Antique Dealer’s Treasure-Filled Wiscasset Apartment

After leaving New York last year, clothing designer Samuel Snider found a new path in antiques.

Snider standing in his shop beside an early-nineteenth-century New England painted stepback cupboard. On the shelves is an assortment of nineteenth-century Maine redware, painted pantry boxes, a painted mortar and pestle from the late nineteenth century, and early-twentieth-century shorebird carvings.

In March of 2020, Samuel Snider, an antique textile clothing designer based in New York, was in Paris preparing for a flight bound for Milan. Then borders began to close. “I had been planning to visit factories and look into manufacturing so that I could move over there,” Snider explains. But since Northern Italy was the first COVID-19 hot spot in Europe, Snider’s flight home from Milan got canceled. He cut his trip short and returned to New York, which within days was in full pandemic mode.

Snider had already alerted his Nolita landlords about his impending move, so he needed to find somewhere else to live by the summer. “I didn’t want to stay in New York and sign another apartment lease, because I had already been of the mind that I was going to leave,” he says. On top of wanting to escape the city, Snider’s clothing line— simple, early-twentieth-century workwear-inspired pieces cut from vintage French linen—was taking a hit. “Most of my orders for the collection I had just shown were being scaled back or canceled,” he says.

He decided to put his brand on pause, to give himself breathing room and time before moving forward. “My family has a property in Monmouth on Lake Cobbosseecontee, and I was here visiting when I decided to figure out a way to stay.”

The most obvious people to turn to for housing advice were Snider’s good friends Sharon and Paul Mrozinski, co-owners of the Marston House, a venerable antique shop previously located in Wiscasset and now in Vinalhaven. Several years before, Snider had walked into the Wiscasset shop, and before long was not only sourcing linen from Sharon—one of her specialties is homespun French textiles from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that she buys from her second home in Southern France—but soon the two also developed a connection resembling family. Sharon reached out to friends and soon found Snider an apartment (what he refers to as his “little attic tree house”) on the top floor of a three-story townhouse owned by the proprietor of Rock Paper Scissors, which is on the first floor.

All angled ceilings and corner nooks, the 700-square-foot apartment fits Snider’s vibe. “I walked in, and it was very simple and small and just seemed perfect for a transitional time,” he says. “And it was available on the day that I had to move out of my apartment in New York. It seemed like maybe I should just do this and live in Wiscasset.”

Simultaneously, Sharon and Paul were “stuck” in France with no possible return date, thanks to COVID. They asked Snider for a return favor; a container full of recently found antiques was destined to land in Maine: could he put them into storage? Snider said yes—sort of. Instead of packing the pieces away, he rented the empty storefront across from his apartment on Water Street and turned it into a pop-up shop, selling the Mrozinskis’ wares while simultaneously figuring out what he wanted to do next.

“I’ve always had an interest in antiques; it’s always been a hobby of mine,” he says. “With my clothing line I was already doing a lot of buying in that world, and through that I became interested in early furniture and objects. I decided maybe I would want to explore that side of myself, rather than just as a hobby.” Snider enjoyed the work so much that he decided when the couple returned he would reopen the store with his own inventory and give antiquing a go.

Enter Samuel Snider Antiques, which opened on Memorial Day of this year and focuses on New England Americana. Like any antiques dealer, Snider buys from multiple sources—estate sales, fairs, individuals—but the bulk of his inventory comes from other dealers whom he respects. “I can learn from them, and I also know that everything I’m getting is guaranteed,” he says. “There’s trust there.” Snider loves the chase, he says, including the fact that there’s one of each thing, and if you find it, people can’t go out and find it again.

The hardest part is determining what goes into the shop and what makes it home to the attic. “At the moment I’ve been putting my best stuff into the store,” Snider says. But he admits that a lot of the things in his apartment are things he’s “stolen back” from his shop. “And then maybe one day I’ll sell them. It is a constant fluctuating thing.”

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