Published: August 5, 2003
– Milon Alton Barnes, 63, well-known antiques dealer and partner in Hastings House Antiques, died on Saturday morning, August 2, at Weiss Hospice Unit of Middlesex Hospital in Middletown, Conn. He died of complications of the liver resulting from hepatitis C.
Milon was born on the Fourth of July, 1940, in Kinston, N.C., and grew up in eastern North Carolina where he attended elementary and high school. He furthered his education at Asbury College in Kentucky. From college he went to Boston and was employed by Blue Cross/Blue Shield for a good number of years.
It was also in Boston where, 41 years ago this past June, he met Philip Hastings McNemer. “About three years after we met we decided to go into the antiques business, bringing together both our interest in antiques and our desire to work on our own,” Philip said. That business, originally in Boston for the first few years, has flourished for the past 38 years and Hastings House has been represented in major shows across the country, as well as with a presence on Main Street in Essex. Customers always knew when Hastings House was open for business as a large sign depicting a carved pineapple was leaning against the front of the shop. This symbol of hospitality and warm friendship truly represented the character of the shop and its two owners.
Among the shows in which Hastings House has participated over the years are The Winter Antiques Show in New York City, The Philadelphia Antiques Show, The Ellis Memorial Show in Boston, shows in both Houston and Dallas, The Southport-Westport Antiques Show in Westport, Conn., Antiquarius in Greenwich, Conn., the Grosse Pointe Show in Michigan, The High Museum Show in Atlanta and many others.
In addition to the antiques business, Milon enjoyed many interests. “We were walking down one of the streets in Boston one day and passed a theater staging The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” Philip said. It was then Philip learned that Milon had never seen a musical and tickets were immediately purchased. The bug bit and Milon became a great fan of the theater, taking in shows in New York and becoming a regular attendee and supporter of the nearby Goodspeed Opera House. He was an avid reader of antiques related and design magazines, and never threw away an issue.
Milon’s sharp eye kept the shop filled with an eclectic mix of antique furniture and accessories, with emphasis on Japanese and Chinese material. And the time was rare when Hastings House did not have an Oriental screen to offer. Over the years many wonderful things passed through their hands into both private and public collections, and at one point their house looked like an Indian reservation with 40 cigar store figures standing about.
Among the clients Hastings House has sold to over the years are Vladamir Horowitz and Wanda Toscanini Horo-witz, Pittsburgh Steeler running back Rocky Blier, Mr and Mrs Dan Dietrich, Edgar Cullman, Houston Rockets basketball star Mike Newlin, Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall, Mrs Henry C. Ford, Dustin Hoffman, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, Morley Safer, Mario Buatta, Andy Warhol, and Sister Parish and Albert Hadley. Milon and Philip have also placed objects in the collections of John Deere, Conoco Oil Company, Fleet Bank and Donnelly Publishing, to name but a few.
Dudley Sharpe of Houston, the former secretary of the Air Force under President Eisenhower, purchased some screens from Hastings House that are now in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
In addition to his companion Philip, Milon is survived by five sisters, Frances Pridgen of Dudley, N.C.; Carolyn Moore of Franklin Springs, Ga.; Nancy Williamson of Emerald Isle, N.C.; LaNell Cobb, Goldsboro, N.C.; and Donna Morris, Raleigh, N.C.; and one brother, Norman Barnes of Goldsboro, N.C.
A wake was conducted on Sunday at the Sage American Restaurant in Chester, Conn., and burial will be private. Donations in Milon’s memory may be made to Weiss Hospice Unit, Middlesex Hospital, Office of Philanthropy, 28 Crescent Street, Middletown, CT 06457 or Goodspeed Opera House, Box A, East Haddam, CT 06423.
Milon will be remembered for his warm smile, his attentiveness to others and his love of beautiful things. His life was made joyous by his many close friends.
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