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The Yankee Express

The Pewter Pot pumps new life into an old gem of a building

Mark VandenAkker and Diane Henderson have high hopes for The Pewter Pot.

By Rod Lee

An architectural oddity of a building at 670 Linwood Ave. in Whitinsville sits directly in front of a mill that was reclaimed as an apartment complex, a liquor store, a restaurant and more a number of years ago.


Top, this chair with side arm for an antique telephone was reconditioned before being put on the floor; it hearkens back to the days of yore.

Presumably used as a guard house or check-in station in its heyday, the interesting two-story structure abutting the street recently became the home of The Pewter Pot, a gift shop owned by Mark VandenAkker and his family.
Unlike some of the ventures that have come and gone at the location in the past, The Pewter Pot may have staying power.
Talking about The Pewter Pot on the afternoon of June 23rd, Mr. VandenAkker said the store’s focus will be “primitive and country furniture, décor and novelty items.”
Mr. VandenAkker, his wife Diane Henderson and his daughters Tara Melo and Lauren Spada are counting on “hand-built Amish furniture” to be an integral ingredient of the business—and an attraction for prospective patrons.
“We will be doing a lot of custom orders,” he said. “And we are hoping to open a small coffee shop on the first floor, and maybe have outdoor seating.”
“Ambitious” is a word that surfaces in describing what Mr. VandenAkker has in mind as the objective of the shop. Having grown up in town, he was aware of the building’s existence and optimistic about its potential. “We kind of like the building,” he said. “I like the location, right on the street. It was built in 1866, and has an ornate feeling.”
This goes hand-in-hand with the exquisite variety of tables and chairs, cabinets, cupboards, and curio pieces that are thoughtfully and tastefully arranged upstairs and down, many of which have been purchased from Amish dealers—“about five different vendors in Pennsylvania, and we are looking at others in Ohio.”
The VandenAkker family with an able assist from Joe Melo has made good use of limited space, so that every possible square foot has been captured for display—but without looking cramped or overburdened. This is a tricky proposition but one that Mr. VandenAkker enjoys tackling.
 “A lot of it is experience,” he said, in referring to the approach that has been taken. “We have some of the furnishings in our home in Sutton.
“We installed new flooring, new lighting and we 100 percent repainted the whole place,” he said.
“I also have a pest-control business. This is set up for my daughters to run.”
Mr. VandenAkker signed a lease in July. The Pewter Pot is already earning plaudits. One customer said “’this is the nicest country store I’ve been in,’ which is the kind of feel we wanted.”
A comment that has been heard too is “when is the coffee coming?”
Walls built “at an angle”—a feature that is not immediately apparent to the casual observer—present a challenge; but this has been dealt with by way of shelves built to fit the slant.
The Pewter Pot is going to be a seven-days-a-week operation with hours of 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., 11 to 7 on Thursdays and 11 to 5 on Sundays.

Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.