Home & Garden

August 12, 2013

A barn full of the past

SOUTH HERO, Vt.  — A search for a touch of nostalgia, a folk-art toy for boy’s dresser or a real glass squeezer like grandmothers of a certain vintage used to make the best lemonade ever, ends at the Tinkers Barn in South Hero, Vt.

Almost anything can be found there short of the kitchen sink and a horse. Acutally, a kitchen sink is probably there in the treasure trove of antiques, collectibles and unusual gifts.

“I inherited (the business) from my mom and dad who built this barn 40 years ago from old barns that were here in town because my mom wanted an antique shop,” said JoAnne Rothenbeck, proprietor. 

“My dad was in his 50s, and he was postmaster here. So, they started tearing down the barn and poured the slab. It was a good old-fashion barn-raising. Neighbors and family came to erect the side walls. 

“Dad got it finished eventually. They opened in 1974. They ran it up until they were in their 80s. I’ve been doing it for 13 years.”

Her parents were Robert and Melba Lawrence. Her father named it the Tinkers Barn.

“A tinkerer was a guy who used to go around with a horse and a cart,” Rothenbeck said. “He would knock on ladies’ doors and ask if they had holes in their pots or pans and stuff like that. He would solder them.

“He would build a little dam of sand to hold his solder. Sometimes, the solder would break through the side of the little sand dam and run out. And that’s where the expression, ‘I don’t care a tinker’s dam’ came from. My dad was a great tinkerer.”


Though Rothenbeck has a healthy array of aprons in different styles and fabrics, they are getting harder to find.

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