Antique Row landmark goes on block

Amos Judd & Sons sold after 34 years

  • Jay Judd, standing at left, watches as auctioneer Paul Cooper, holding clipboard, conducts bidding on the family business, Amos Judd & Son, on Howard Street's Antique Row. Jay Judd's father, Jimmy, sits at the desk in the background.
Jay Judd, standing at left, watches as auctioneer Paul Cooper,… (Baltimore Sun photo by Amy…)
February 25, 2010|By Edward Gunts |

When Jimmy Judd opened his antiques store on Baltimore's "Antique Row" 34 years ago, he said, he was one of three dozen dealers with shops on the same block, and on many weekends he'd greet patrons from as far away as Virginia, Pennsylvania and Washington.

Today there are fewer than a dozen dealers with separate shops in the 800 block of N. Howard St., while others lease stalls inside one multi-tenant location. Still others have retired or opened shops in areas such as Cockeysville, New Market and Savage.

On Wednesday, many of Antique Row's regulars - sellers and buyers - gathered to watch as Judd auctioned his building, for many years one of the largest shops on the block, to real estate investor and developer David Hilger. The sale by Alex Cooper Auctioneers brought $236,250 - a base bid of $225,000 plus a 5 percent buyer's premium.

Judd said he and his son, Jay, opened a stall last year down the block in the Antique Row Stalls, and he decided to sell his original store because he didn't need the space.

"I'm 80 years old," Judd said. "I turned the business over to my son. ... I wanted to downsize."

Hilger, the buyer, said he plans to fix up the 5,740-square-foot building and rent it out. He said his mother, Thelma, operated a shop on Antique Row, Antique Treasury, for many years, so he knows the area has potential. "We are very familiar with it," he said. "And the price was right."

Nearly three dozen people crowded into one room of the former Amos Judd & Son shop while auctioneer Paul Cooper conducted the sale. Most of the merchandise had been removed from the building, but a few items remained, including several chandeliers and an old-fashioned red bumper car. Bidding started at $200,000.

Judd said he bought the building for $88,000 in 1976 from the proceeds of the sale of another family business, an electroplating company on Washington Boulevard. He credited former Mayor William Donald Schaefer and Baltimore Development Corp. President M.J. "Jay" Brodie, a former city housing commissioner, with naming the block Antique Row and promoting it aggressively.

He said the 1980s were probably a high point for the block, when it had more than 40 antique dealers. That was also before the light rail began service down Howard Street, which made it more difficult for people to get there by car and park.

Judd said the sale price wasn't as high as he had hoped, but he's "very satisfied." He said he knows Hilger and is happy he's buying the building.

Judd added that the sale by no means marks the end of Antique Row. He said many dealers like the idea of having a stall or booth that someone else can manage while they're off buying more antiques.

"When you're an antique dealer, you never retire," he said. "I'll never stop selling antiques, that's for sure."

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