WEST SWANZEY, N.H. — Knotty Pine Antiques, long a well-known auction house in northern New England, was destroyed by a fast-moving fire that tore through the building on Route 10 early Sunday morning, collapsing the building as it burned to the ground.
According to local news reports, Swanzey Fire Department firefighters were called to the firm’s location at 787 West Swanzey Road (Route 10) at 12:12 am on January 7. Fire Chief Norm Skantze was quoted as saying that firefighters, working in temperatures of minus 9 degrees Fahrenheit and a wind chill of minus 18 degrees, were unable to quell the four-alarm fire. “There was just not enough available water,” Skantze told the Manchester Union Leader, despite combined manpower and equipment of 16 fire departments; within 30 minutes of responding, the entire building collapsed. Skantze was contacted for comment for this article, but had not responded by press time nor did the business’s owner, John Pappas.
No one was injured in the fire, according to AP. Officials are working to determine the cause of the fire. The business was well-known to readers of Antiques and The Arts Weekly.
In 2010, the firm celebrated its 50th anniversary, having begun humbly in 1960, housed in a small one-room shop with knotty pine paneling on the interior walls. Joan and her husband, Steve Pappas, have were long recognized as staples of the antiques community, not only in their home state but throughout New England and New York. Joined in the ensuing years by two of their children, John and Michael, Knotty Pine Antiques continued to grow and eventually expanded to become an important nationally recognized auction house.
In 1960, Joan, then 23 and still using her maiden name, continued a family tradition begun by her mother and opened a small one-room shop just a mile or so from their ultimate location on Route 10. In 1963, Joan and Steve married and over the next several years the couple added four children, Tom, Stephen, John and Michael. And, as their family grew, so did their antiques business.
The couple purchased land at the current location a couple of years later and began conducting flea markets on the site. It was not long before a gift shop located there was dominated by antiques and that the building began to expand.
The flea market and antiques shop grew, and as commerce at the shop increased, Joan and Steve thought of ways to grow the business and decided to start renting space in the shop to other dealers, thus beginning one of the first antiques malls in the United States, housing as many as 120 dealers in the 1970s.
Both the business and the building continued to grow through the 1980s and 1990s, with a long waiting list of dealers from the Northeast, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania wanting to exhibit their merchandise at Knotty Pine. During this period, Knotty Pine grew into one of the country’s largest antiques malls, housing some 350 dealers, gaining a national reputation as a destination for antiques dealers and enthusiasts.
As business changed in the late 1900s with the introduction of the internet, as well as many new antiques malls and shows being created, Knotty Pine went through another transformation, closing the annex section of the antiques mall. With the newly vacant 6,000-square-foot facility available, complete with a coffee shop and offices and a spacious 5,500-square-foot gallery, brothers John and Michael decided it was a perfect place to open the Gallery at Knotty Pine Auction Service.
The gallery conducted its first antiques auction on August 5, 1995, with John Pappas as the manager and Mike doing the calling.
The auction business went through yet another transformation, when in 2004 John opened a second annex gallery and Michael exited the business to pursue a new career. Upon Michael’s exit, John Pappas took over not only the responsibilities of managing the gallery, but also the full-time auctioneering duties. The 3,000-square-foot annex gallery added in 2004 hosted estate auctions, conducted on Thursday evenings, while the main 5,500-square-foot gallery continued to be used for all major antiques and specialty sales that were conducted monthly.
In 2008, Knotty Pine went through its final transformation as the Gallery at Knotty Pine Auction Service, when after nearly 50 years in business, Joan and Steve Pappas decided to close the shop known as the Knotty Pine Antique Market. In May 2008, while still housing about 100 antiques dealers from around New England, the Pappases decided to close the antiques mall/retail end of the business.
The firm’s most recent auction, an end-of-year multi-estate antiques auction, was conducted on December 21, 2017.