written by marilyn myers slade • photographed by inside outside photography antiques
LIVING BY EXAMPLE • Peter Eaton and Joan R. Brownstein demonstrate that
fine vintage furniture and art are at home in modern spaces
ON A BRIGHT SPRING morning several years ago, antiques dealer Peter Eaton and his wife, folk art specialist Joan R.
Brownstein, had an appointment with a
young couple who wanted to start a small
antiques collection. However, when the
clients arrived at Eaton and Brownstein’s
home and shop at 24 Parker Street in
Newbury, Massachusetts, they were certain they had the wrong address.
Rather than the historic structure
in which they expected to find such
mavens of vintage treasures, the building
before them was a stark, white modern
box. Yet once inside, the now regular
visitors found a treasure trove of early American furniture
and primitive art beautifully displayed against simple contemporary interiors.
Eaton, a 40-year veteran of the
antiques business, became acquainted
with Brownstein over 30 years of exhibiting at some of the more prestigious
antiques shows, such as the Philadelphia
Antiques Show, the Delaware Antiques
Show, and the American Antiques Show
in New York City. In 2002, they married,
and their businesses inevitably began to
merge. At the time, Eaton’s home/shop
was a renovated 1851 brick commercial
building in downtown Newburyport,
Massachusetts, just a mile from the
gently rolling bucolic hillside where
the couple live now. He was ready for
a change, and Brownstein concurred.
As an artist who specialized in abstract
painting before devoting herself full time to dealing in folk
art, she saw the value of creating a new minimalist space that
showcased how the fine craftsmanship and artistry of the past
the modern house Peter Eaton
designed (above) offers a
contemporary backdrop for the
American regional antiques and folk
art (top) he and his wife, Joan R.
Brownstein, collect and sell.
Both at 24 Parker St.,
by chance or