iCare Community Magazine
Two Streets Antiques, James de Vercelly
In the nearly 40 years since James de Vercelly opened Two Streets Antiques in Historic Downtown Stuart, many unforgettable people have walked through the shop’s doors. Some wanted to sell items from their vast estates; others were searching for oneof-a-kind collectables. James got to know each and every one of them – and many of those clients became his lifelong friends.
James recently reminisced about his journey and the friendships he has forged in the shop that he founded in 1985. “There wasn’t much in Stuart back then,” he recalls. “Rents were low. Now downtown Stuart has grown; it’s a beautiful place to come to, and people love it. But in some ways, the personal touch has disappeared.”
Not at Two Streets Antiques, it hasn’t. James personally oversees an array of antiques and memorabilia, ranging from the 18th century on, with a large collection of Tiffany glass. And unlike most antiques shops, he knows the stories behind each piece.
Two Streets also does business online, through sites such as Chairish. But it’s the personal touch for which the shop is known, and what James prefers. He collects not just treasures, but treasured tales from bygone eras – and he loves sharing those stories with others.
One touching tale involves Elka, the daughter of a general to the Czar of Russia. She was 96 years young when she walked into Two Streets with portraits of Czar Nicholas II and Czarina Alexandra that she wished to sell. She subsequently sold her china and rare, historically significant items through Two Streets.
Elka invited James to her condo on East Ocean Boulevard, and showed him an amethyst pug dog statue with eyes of gleaming red rubies and a gold collar embedded with a sea pearl. The dog had cracked paws but was otherwise stunning, and Elka wanted to sell it.
James brought it to an antiques show in Palm Beach and did just that. When he later heard a rumor circulating at the show that a Faberge dog had been sold, he immediately thought it could be that dog, and he went to see Elka the following week.
“So I asked her, the little amethyst pug that you sold me, where did it come from?” says James. “And she said ‘Anastasia gave it to me.’ I said, ‘Do you mean the daughter of the Czar of Russia?’
And she said, ‘Yes, I went to school with her.’”
On his visits to Elka’s home, James saw photos of her life in Russia and marveled at its opulence.
There was the family’s summer estate with its striking gold dome, and a large map showing the extent of the lands owned by Elka’s father, a general to the Czar of Russia. Elka opened a family album showing a picture of her mother dressed in white linen, lounging on a chaise with all the serfs behind her. Elka started to cry. “So I said, ‘You miss your mother,’” says James. “And she said, ‘No, I miss my nanny.’”
It was all left behind during the revolution, when her family fled to France. Elka eventually married an American and spent her senior years in Stuart, surrounded by a few select treasures that remained from her incredible former life. “She told me that if it hadn’t been for the revolution, she wouldn’t be talking to me now,” remembers James.
Another notable character was Ronald Werner of the Werner Trucking Co., a Treasure Coast resident for many years, and one of the founders of LouRonzo’s restaurant in Stuart. “I first met him when he and his mother walked in here with a bag of jewelry that he wanted me to sell on consignment,” recalls James. “Over the years, we became good friends. Over dinner one evening, his mother told me how Werner Trucking was started. She said she was saving for a sofa and two chairs, and it was a toss-up between buying the furniture or buying a truck. His father bought the truck and built it into an empire.”
Ron is remembered throughout Stuart for his giving nature. “Ron was a very generous man to a lot of people,” says James.
Whether he’s helping clients sell their treasures on consignment or liquidating their entire estates, James has a private view into their past lives, and he enjoys hearing their reminiscences. He is sensitive to how emotional it can be for them to part with their belongings: “This is their life, these are their treasures.”
Another client who became a dear friend was one of those people. James helped her liquidate her large family home in Islip, New York. “We arrived at the estate in the morning,” says James.
“I can recall the sound of the stones popping beneath the tires as we drove onto the property. The daffodil tops rose slightly above the morning mist. Even the gate house looked like a miniature castle – it was like going back in time. It makes me sad, as I will never experience this again.”
The items were incredible: trunks of beaded dresses, erminetrimmed capes, silver and more. The home itself had bronze sconces that were nearly five feet tall, and a dining table that was so large it had to be left in the house. The auction drew bidders from across the country.
Something for Everyone
These days, James is happy to stay closer to home, keeping Two Streets bursting with the varied and unique pieces that make it one of Stuart’s most fascinating places. It’s the ideal spot to find that perfect gift, antique or piece of art, or hear the story behind it. You’ll find yourself losing track of time as you browse the exceptional collection.
“There isn’t a day that goes by when someone comes in and remarks on what a wonderful experience this shop is,” says James.
You can count on Two Streets to feature a wide range of furniture (everything from hand carved cherry pieces from an estate in England to items from the Burt Reynolds property), vintage jewelry, crystals and glassware – including a selection of valuable Tiffany pieces. There truly is something here for everyone, and in every price range.
Two Streets is located at 20 SW Osceola Street, with a second entrance on Flagler Avenue. They are open Monday through Saturday, and Sundays by appointment.
James invites you to visit, see the treasures and share the memories. Who knows? The next unforgettable person to come through the doors of Two Streets might very well be you.
Two Streets is located in Downtown Stuart
20 SW. Osceola St. • Stuart, Fl.