Susquehanna Antique Company’s ties to Asheville, NC go all the way back to the 1911 flood of the Susquehanna River in the Havre de Grace/Port Deposit region of Maryland, where Samuel Harris Friedman (born 1872), at the behest of his doctor, was told he needed “Clean air and fresh water” after coming down with a lung infection as his family waited to be rescued.
The mountainous region of Asheville was perfect for the entrepreneurial 42yr old man where he opened the Susquehanna Furniture Company on Biltmore Avenue 1913. His son, Nathaniel took over the business during the depression when most people needed to barter for goods and services. This was perfect for the older, more sturdy furniture he could find as well as many other artisanal antiques, heirlooms, and artifacts. Soon after Nathaniel met his wife Barbara where she was seen in the very first live television commercial for a brand-new product called frozen orange juice. Which is where the current owner, David Friedman, enters the picture.
David’s entrepreneurial spirit first arose selling ice-cream and candy to the neighborhood kids, but by the time he was twelve, his grandfather took a shine to having young David working around the shop polishing silver. They told him he could earn three dollars an hour, by which he calculatingly replied, “For how many hours, exactly?” Huffing and buffing day after day, David began to notice; the engravings, the makers mark, words like Sterling and Tiffany’s along with the depth, beauty and uniqueness of each and every piece. He began bidding on silverware from picture-less mail-order catalogues from faraway places like New York and London based solely on the description. However in 1967 his picture was published in the Asheville Citizen Times accompanied by an article about the shop and their budding estate auction business.
In order to help his father in the shop, David enrolled at UNC Asheville and was able to pay a full year’s tuition by which his father replied, “And you did it with spoons?!” Sadly, his father passed away. Miraculously waiting for David in his mailbox when he got home from the funeral was his acceptance letter to UNC Chapel Hill. His alma mater and first choice.
He soon began commuting to Washington, DC where he was able to rent a building on Wisconsin Avenue. There his business grew and grew where he became a bi-partisan businessman, selling pieces to both Dick Cheney as well as Hillary Clinton. With so many paintings coming and going he soon took notice of Picture Frames the same way he observed the silverware. In detail.
His second floor went from a storage area where he kept the best frames for his high-end clients, to nearly a warehouse amount of close to a thousand pieces, all from the 17th century thru to the early 20th.
Way back in 1929 his beloved grandfather Samuel had taken nearly his last $2500 and invested it in one hundred acres of land where he built a cabin that has since been refurbished and rebuilt.
David Friedman still has an inventory of over seven hundred frames as well as various antique pieces of furniture, bric-a-brac and yes, his beloved silver spoons.