118 N. Allegheny Street Bellefonte, Pennsylvania 16823
By Serge Bielanko
It isn't unusual for treasure hunters to stumble upon something they simply must have in this town. It happens every day. Bellefonte is a place where people come to buy things they can't find almost anywhere else. Vintage signs, old Christmas decorations, vinyl records, heck...even the exact same Star Wars lunchbox that you had back in third grade, if you really want it, there's a good chance you can find it in one of this towns antique shops are second-hand stores.
Every once in a while though, something lands on these streets, seemingly out of nowhere, that raises the antiquing bar.
Behold: The Secretary.
She is...are you ready?
She is a desk.
But not just any old desk. Oh no no no; the Secretary is much more than that. She is a gorgeous and rare piece of furniture designed by industrial design legend, Raymond Loewy, a man the Smithsonian Institute once devoted an entire exhibit to. Loewy's sleek and innovative work was behind so many iconic American brands including Studebaker, Nabisco, Macy's, and Lucky Strike. Oh and you know that sleek running dog you see every time you pass a Greyhound bus on the highway? That was Loewy too. The guy is still everywhere.
And now he's here in Bellefonte in a way, the star of the front window show at Iron Star Trading Company, 118 N. Allegheny Street. In the form of a desk. The Secretary is the name of the piece that Vana Dainty, one of the owners of the shop along with Kevin Clark, has proudly procured. Designed and created just after World War II, during a period when Loewy was creating exclusive furniture for the Mengel Company, The Secretary - if you can even find one- normally retails for a lot of loot. However Dainty tells me the shop is able to offer this famous visitor for much less.
"We are asking $1500 for it when it is known to sell for over $6000," she says. "There are a couple of rough spots one is were the previous owner had a candle that left a dark spot and a few and mean a few spots on top were a glass left a mark."
But even if you're not in the market for purchasing The Secretary for your own, don't let that stop you from swinging by Iron Star Trading Company to feast your eyes on a part of American history. The owners say they love it when people stop in to look at something in the shop with a story behind it. And sooner than later someone is bound to take this desk home.
Perhaps even Dainty herself.
"I'm mostly trying to decide to keep it or sell it," she admits. "However Kevin, my partner, reminded me we can't keep everything."
This is the question that we all need to think about. For you, for your kids, and for your neighbors and their kids, too.
It's a beautiful investment in any town's future as it is about the nooks and cranny's of window replacement.
A bunch of young racers between the ages of 7-14 are headed here, to Allegheny Street to prove it.
There remains a magic element to the slow cruising of all those restored cars, to all that highly polished 20th century steel shining out by the courthouse.
It's only $15 per big section of sidewalk and all the proceeds will be going towards Downtown Bellefonte Inc.
Visit the Co-Creating Galleries where every single one of us is needed to create the art on display.
Each and every soldier you cross paths with as you walk along will be representing a Pennsylvanian who came before us.
Both visiting fair artisans and existing small business owners will both benefit from the change. That seems kind of perfect, does't it?
The most charming aspect of this whole thing is that there's been such a powerful show of community effort to make it all happen.
Nestled on Spring Creek beside Tussey Moutain Outfitters, you'll find one of Bellefonte's best kept secrets.
A magical night of outdoor dining under twinkling bistro lights right on the banks of one of the most lovely streams in all of Pennsylvania.
Men, women, and children were hidden, fed, sheltered, and transported along clandestine routes by passionately committed strangers.
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