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Located just an hour south of our nation’s capital, Copper Fox Antiques is nestled in the bosom of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Come antiquing in the cozy town of Sperryville in rural Rappahannock County, where there isn’t a stoplight, fast food joint or Wal-Mart to be found. Here, cows outnumber people, and the internationally-acclaimed dining at restaurants such as the Thornton River Grille and the Inn at Little Washington is rivalled only by our spectacular views of rich pastureland, native wildlife and the rugged Blue Ridge.
The store is located in Sperryville’s River District—where the North and South forks of the Thornton River converge—home to Wasmund’s Whiskey and the Rappahannock Central art galleries. Peruse our showroom, take a distillery tour, check out the local art scene—then grab a bite to eat at any of four restaurants in downtown Sperryville!
A little backstory . . . The history of the Copper Fox From cold storage for apples, to packing house, to cidery, to distillery, to antique store—the home of Copper Fox Antiques has evolved in usage since the building’s construction in 1938. Besides functioning as an apple packing house beginning in 1963 and a cidery beginning in 1996, the warehouse was a cold storage building for apples from 1938 until 2000—which is around the time that Rick Wasmund was searching for a home for his whiskey distillery. While pursuing his dream of crafting a satisfying, locally-made single malt whiskey, Wasmund sold odds-and-ends including furniture in the front of the building. He soon partnered with Cole Johnson to sell antiques in the building, naming the business Copper Fox Antiques. When Wasmund moved next door into the current home of Wasmund’s Whiskey, Johnson continued to run the growing antique business. In 2007, Sharp became owner of Copper Fox Antiques, which boasts over 500 consignors featuring a wide array of high-quality antiques and collectibles spread thematically throughout 30,000 square feet of first-floor show space. He owns and operates the business with his wife Ashleigh.
A former apple mecca There is rich history “where two rivers meet.” As part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation—partly designed to save farmers hit hard by the Great Depression—three buildings were constructed in the late ‘30s, where the North and South forks of Sperryville’s Thornton River converge. The buildings housed three apple cooperatives owned and operated by local apple growers. The Sperryville River District (now home to Rappahannock Central, Wasmund’s Whiskey and Copper Fox Antiques) formerly boasted an apple packing house, a juice plant and a cold storage, during the golden era of the Virginia apple industry of the 1940s and ‘50s. As you enter the River District, the front building on your left, which now consists of art galleries within Rappahannock Central, was originally an apple packing house. There, freshly-picked Rappahannock apples were sorted, packed into boxes and shipped out for resale. Sorted apples deemed not fit for sale in grocery stores and fruit stands were sent to the juice plant beside the packing house—the location of Wasmund’s Malt Room—and turned into juice. The finished juice was stored in the cinderblock building next to the juice plant that’s now the Copper Fox Distillery and home to Wasmund’s Whiskey. Not all packed apples were sold immediately, which is why the cold storage building—home to Copper Fox Antiques—was built in 1938. In this three-story, 50,000 square foot warehouse, apples were stored in refrigeration until sold. The building was home to the Rappahannock Cold Storage Cooperative, owned and operated by several local apple growers.
The motivation behind refrigerating apples is that heat is the enemy of the picked apple. “A day in the field is like a week in cold storage,” was commonly preached in the apple industry. Beginning in 1963, the building doubled as an apple packing house. According to the building’s owner, Alex Sharp VII, 25 to 30 people worked in the apple packing section—mostly women. The men typically operated the forklifts, he said. “The men gravitated toward the machine work, and women would do the packing and sorting.”
If you look above one of the large doorways in the middle section of the building, you’ll find Sharp’s favorite memento from Sperryville’s apple packing days: a metal sign that reads, “Bagging apples, Yes. Talking, No.”
Sharp bought the building from the Cooperative in 1985 and used it for storing apples he grew in several Rappahannock County orchards. He and his twin brother Bill established an apple cidery in the building in 1990, to fill what they perceived as a void of locally-made apple cider at roadside stands in the county. In 1996, Sperryville’s Cliff Miller IV rented part of the building for use as a hard apple cidery. The product: Fred’s Cider. The building was used for storing apples in refrigeration until the year 2000.
Copper Fox Antiques LLC • 7 River Lane • Sperryville Virginia • 22740