Published: December 24, 2015
WOODSTOCK, VT. — Denise Underwood Martin, a longtime resident of Woodstock, died December 24 just a week after celebrating her 97th birthday in Exeter, N.H. “Denny” and her husband, John “Jack” Martin, ran an antiques business primarily in paintings, broadsides and ephemera out of their home at 16 The Green in Woodstock from 1956 to 1982.
She was the daughter of Kenneth F.H. Underwood and Katharine “Hillary” (Thomas) Underwood, who had antique shops in Sudbury, Vt., and Woodstock and whose collection of American folk art was auctioned at Sotheby’s in 1983. Having attended a one-room schoolhouse in Sudbury, Denny went on to receive her bachelor of arts degree from Bennington College and do graduate work at Bryn Mawr.
She and her husband decided to make antiques their career when they found a Bennington spittoon and sold it to the Brooklyn Museum. Together they had many exciting finds, including a Winslow Homer watercolor. They exhibited at the White Plains shows and many of Russell Carrell’s shows, including the Winter Antiques Show at the 7th Regiment Armory in New York City. Their customers included noted Vermont collectors Electra Havemeyer Webb and Gertrude Mallary, as well as established New York retailers like Kennedy Galleries and The Old Print Shop, whose owners, the Newman family, became longtime friends.
In 1964 she asked Russell Carrell (who in 1958 had premiered his Antiques in a Cow Pasture flea market) to help her start the first outdoor antique show in Woodstock to benefit the Vermont Children’s Aid Society. It launched in a horse pasture on a dirt road with 50 dealers and eventually grew to 150 dealers on the grounds of the Woodstock Union High School. In 1989, it celebrated its 25th anniversary.
Denny had her ten minutes of fame when she was chosen for a “starring” role in a commercial for Lipton’s tea. It featured shots of Woodstock and the Martins’ shop. In it, she proclaimed: “I’d sooner Lipton, it has more tea taste.”
Having lived with antiques dealers growing up, Denny saw the profession grow and change. She remembered the Keno twins as children in pajamas, when they were avid stoneware collectors, doing business with her mother and staying overnight at her house. She and Jack were unofficial members of the family of New Hampshire auctioneer William A. Smith, whose sales they regularly attended as buyers and sometimes as consignors or partners with Bill.
She was predeceased by her husband in 1985 and also by her brother, the Honorable Wynn Underwood. She is survived by her sister, Judith Underwood Starbuck of Patagonia, Ariz., her children Hillary Thomas Martin of Stamford, Conn., Jay Hart Martin of Greenwood Village, Colo., and Timothy Underwood Martin of Ira, Vt.; six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
A memorial service is planned in the spring. Gifts in her memory to the North Universalist Chapel Society, 7 Church Street, Woodstock VT 05091; or PPNNE, 183 Talcott Road, Suite 101, Williston VT 05495 are appreciated.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm