Mount Holyoke College Alumni Quarterly
Restoring Beautiful Things and Their Histories
As the Washington, D.C., area is discovering, what sets Curzon Hill Antiques apart is its proprietress, Sarah E. Hill. For one thing, in a field that often attracted retirees, Sarah is far from being a vintage tie,. But even at the tender age of twenty-nine, Sarah had proven herself an old hand when it comes to antique linens for the bed and bath.
ìMy business actually dates back to my years at Mount Holyoke,î she explains. ìWhile in school, I ran it part-time through an antique mall in Falls Church, Virginia. I incorporated the business just a few months before graduating.î
Sarah started collecting fine European porcelain as a hobby when she was about sixteen. ìI think that interest influenced my decision to major in historyóI double-majored in history and German. Iíd always been fascinated by material culture and visited house museums whenever I traveled. It wasnít so much the elegant dining rooms or living rooms that attracted me. I wanted to know what was used in the kitchen and the story behind the objects,î Sarah says.
Providing customers with the story behind their purchases is one of Sarahís trademarks. Among other things, she researches where an item was made and during which stylistic period. ìCustomers frequently say how much they appreciate getting the details. Fortunately, Mount Holyoke trained me to be a good researcher.î
Along with operating the shop, Sarah is always busy scooping out new pieces at auctions and estate sales or reviewing items brought to her. She has also started a side business repairing and cleaning antique linens. ìConserving textiles is very gratifying work. The linen may look like rags to the untrained eye but they can be restored. These are pieces that often reflect a familyís history.î
Curzon Hill Antiques-Curzon is Sarahís motherís birth name-has been feature twice in the Washington Post, written up in Country Living magazine and on the national website for the Service Crops of Retired Executives (SCORE) and most recently appeared on the nationally syndicated television program First Business. Sarah has also launched a Web Site at www.linenconnection.com.
For the moment, though, Sarah is focused on the two rugs she has to repair after closing the shop at six oíclock. The rest of the evening will be spent starting to clean a batch of twenty linens. Her is a nonstop schedule, as she readily admits. ìBut itís worth it. Each day I get up knowing that I have fun im my work.î
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