Knickknacks of the rich and famous!

9 J.T. Connell Highway, Newport
(401) 849-7233 or (800) 446-1052
www.aardvarkantiques.com

Aardvark Antiques is no ordinary antiques store. If you're looking for old coins, vinyl records, an art deco candy dish, musty old back issues of Life magazine, platform shoes, a Honus Wagner rookie card, souvenirs from the 1964 World's Fair, a hand-sewn wedding dress, vintage 1970s Looney Tunes glasses from Burger King, knickknacks, doodads, or tchotchkes of any kind, then turn around, walk away, this is not your store.

But... if you are looking instead for a seven-foot-tall, 3,000-pound bronze statue of a mountain gorilla for your front lawn, well then, welcome! Please step inside.

If the gorilla is not to your taste, you can choose from a whole menagerie of wild and domestic animals, all cast in bronze, or copper, or polished stainless steel.

Or perhaps you were raised an only child who always longed for a platoon of brothers and sisters to play with. You could fill that empty place in your heart with a selection of cast-bronze children, frozen in various acts of innocent play.

Not creepy enough? Why not splurge on a five-foot statue of a winged demon grasping a barely clad, very healthily proportioned nymphet? Wouldn't it look great on a nightstand next to your bed?

As impressive as Aardvark is now, owner Arthur Grover's interest in antiques began on a much smaller scale, scavenging interesting old bottles from a dump. He opened the first Aardvark Antiques store in Providence in 1969, choosing the name because of its visibility in the phone book. Sometime later he moved the business to Newport.

The 30,000 square foot store includes 15,000 eclectic items collected from all over the world, much of it coming from demolished mansions and other high-end properties. Need a light fixture for your apartment? How about one of the six-foot-tall lanterns that once graced some rich guy's driveway?

Aardvark carries huge windows and mirrors; wrought iron gates; fountains of various shapes, sizes, and tastefulness; beautiful stained glass pieces rescued from defunct churches; a complete bumper boat ride from a closed amusement park; and the complete interior of an old Newport bar (Sully's, since sold), salvaged when the building that housed it was torn down years ago.

Need an accent piece for an upcoming party or wedding? Rent a 120-year-old terrazzo caryatid from the sunken gardens of Wakehurst. And if you're making a movie, Aardvark is your one-stop prop shop. Aardvark objet d'art have enhanced the set designs of films like Stuart Little, The Great Gatsby, True Lies, and Moonrise Kingdom.

Aardvark also offers welding, restoration and fabrication services. In 2013 they restored the huge iron gates at Belcourt Castle and at Salve Regina University's Ochre Court.

So really, a visit to Aardvark is like a visit to a funky museum of excess. The price tags can be pretty hefty, but it costs nothing to look.

Awards

Newport Life Magazine's Best of Newport County: Best Antique Shop (2003).

Information

Cost: free, unless you really fall in love with something

Time required: allow an hour to explore the store thoroughly

Hours: Monday to Saturday, 9:30am-7pm, and Sunday, 11am-5pm, in summer; Monday to Saturday, 9:30am-5:30pm, in winter.

Finding it: from the West: take Route 95 exit 9 to Route 4 south; go about ten miles and take the Route 138 exit toward Newport and Jamestown; cross the Jamestown and Newport Bridges (the latter is a toll bridge), and at the end of the Newport Bridge bear right toward Scenic Newport; at the bottom of the ramp turn right onto J.T. Connell Highway, then an immediate left into Aardvark Antiques.

From the East: take Route 195 exit 8 to Route 24 south; go about ten miles and then take Route 114 (West Main Road) south; go about 7.4 miles on West Main Road, then continue straight another half mile on Broadway; take a right onto Summer Street, then take a slight left onto Van Zandt Avenue; go about a half mile, then turn right onto J.T. Connell Highway, and right again into Aardvark Antiques.

What’s nearby

Distances between points are actual distances, without regard to roads or flag-burning pirates. Your travel distance will be longer.

This article last edited May 19, 2015

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