New owner for Marston House
The Marston House in Wiscasset has a new owner. Francoise McCoy bought the house, with the antiques business and the carriage house out back with two bed and breakfast rentals, in June.
Sharon and Paul Mrozinski sold the property and business to their friend after running it, and living in the house, for 30 years. “I came up to visit them last August,” McCoy said. “Sharon told me that they were selling the house, and I was like a little girl, stamping my feet, and saying, ‘No, don’t tell me that!’”
She got it into her head that she wanted to buy it. “I worked on my husband all winter long. He wanted nothing to do with it. We already had an old house that we had spent two years and a lot of money to do what needed to be done with that.”
“He said it was out of the question.” Then one evening in March, McCoy said she started “begging” him, saying it would be the perfect business for her, and he caved. “I called Sharon, and she said it was a dream come true for them. It was a dream come true for me too.”
Much of the inventory was left for her to start her business, which McCoy said she plans to run much the same as her friends did, selling 18th and 19th century antique furnishings and homespun textiles from France, England, Belgium and Sweden, and renting the bed and breakfast rooms in the 19th century carriage house.
McCoy grew up in Paris and moved to Minneapolis-St. Paul, where she lived for 20 years before moving to Salem, Massachusetts. She lives there with her husband, Harry, when not in Wiscasset, or in Paris, where she still spends winters.
McCoy said that, so far, several of her clients, both in the antiques shop and the bed and breakfast, are repeat customers. “I am lucky to have so many friends and clients of Sharon and Paul’s, who come in and introduce themselves, and welcome me to the area. There have been many very nice people stopping by.”
Before taking on the antiques business, McCoy was a pharmacist. She said there’s no comparison between the two occupations. In a pharmacy, there is no time to talk to customers. “Here, I have the time, and I can talk to people for as long as I want to.”
On Aug. 8, a couple stopped by the shop. They acted like they and McCoy were old friends. They were – from a week before – when they stopped in on their way from Gloucester, Massachusetts to Vinalhaven, and bought a shirt, or chemise.
The chemise, it turned out, was one of a dozen or so handwoven linen shirts made in the Rhone Valley in France around 1850. They are in perfect condition, due to the quality of the linen. According to McCoy, most were made for men. And most have two small, simple initials embroidered on the chest, to identify the owners when the women washed the shirts in a common watering hole, or river.
The woman, Loulou Harris, bought another chemise on her way back to Gloucester. “I’m just going to wear these all the time,” she said. “It’s amazing to feel one on your body.”
Harris’s partner, Richard Grenier, left one of his handmade leather bags with McCoy. Each bag is one-of-a-kind, made with hand-waxed cowhide. “They’re designed to be used a lot,” he said. “They’ll only get better with use.” Made at his workshop in Gloucester, a new line of the bags will be featured at the Marston House in the spring.
Another customer had stopped by earlier that morning. “When I came into the shop there was a woman knocking on a window,” McCoy said. It was Martha Stewart. “She had been here before, and she thought it was beautiful.”
“Being here is relaxing for me. It’s all about connections, and people really love this place. It makes me feel very good. I thank Sharon and Paul, and they say, ‘Our clients are now your clients.’”
Before the Mrozinskis bought the Marston House, it had been in the Marston family since 1851. The Mrozinskis were only the fourth owners of the house, built in 1785 by a sea captain who was lost at sea, Capt. Erskine.
The Marston House is open daily, noon to 5 p.m., or by chance.