Foraging for Antique Treasures in Sebastopol, California
Gravenstein Highway cuts into Sebastopol from Highway 101, and along the way there are countless antique shops for the so-inclined. The best by far is Llano House, a cluster of two classic red cottages in a bucolic farmland setting just off the road. The buildings are in the historical registry as two of the oldest standing structures in the county. Ernie Haskell, the quintessential elderly, stoic proprietor—while he takes a moment to warm up—loves to tell the history of the place while bragging that, until a few years ago, the town wouldn't even permit him to run electricity. There is still an ordinance against central heat, so the bigger of the two buildings is outfitted with the original stone fireplace (it sits smack dab in the middle of the biggest antique display room, and provides a waft of authentic soot and creosote, even in the summer). The effect is a nostalgic, cozy scent that surpasses the mildewy, sometimes-creepy odor of most antique shops. Venture up to the attic for a real treat—a chaotic cluster of chairs, violins, oil cans, tools, and dolls line every surface and suspend from the ceiling like a symphony of memories. There are many stories to be told here.