If you’re strolling around Annapolis, it’s easy to find places to stock up on Navy shirts, crab trinkets and Maryland flag souvenirs. But there’s only one place in a thousand mile radius where you’ll find a German double-shot flare gun from World War II or custom designed furniture made from salvaged Liberty Ship hatch covers.
Retired Coast Guard Commander Tony Kime opened Annapolis Maritime Antiques in June 2014. After coming across a Liberty Ship hatch cover table at an event, Kime tracked down its builder, who convinced Kime to not only buy one hatch cover, but the builder’s whole collection.
“Long story short, I bought them all, didn’t have a sander, didn’t own a shop and didn’t have any employees,” says Kime. “Within three or five days I found an old watermen shed, hired a couple of high school kids, had my son-in-law build a website and off we went.”
After getting the wood shop up and running, he opened a quaint gift shop to sell his creations and other maritime treasures. The shop, on the corner of Severn Avenue and Second Street in Eastport, displays bright flags and maritime decorations on the outside. The inside is filled to the brim with nautical decor, artifacts, jewelry and more.
A nautically inspired tree sits out front. Made from a pile of enormous block and tackle obtained from the Liberty ship Zane Grey and Victory ship Diamond Head, the tree is decorated these days with bulbs and lights for Christmas, but it also turns heads on Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s day and the Fourth of July. The mastermind behind the tree is sales associate Aimee Povich.
“I decorated the tree one year for the burning-of-the-socks bonfire,” Povich says. “Only locals and boaters knew what it meant.” She put socks on skewers and made flames made out of shiny foil, a valiant effort. But the idea caught on, and now she dresses the tree for every holiday.
Another smiling face you’ll find in the shop is Nancy Clifford. She’s a lexicon of maritime knowledge, having compiled a detailed inventory of the store, chronicling the significance of nearly every item on display.
Clifford’s favorite items are the deck prisms, which were originally embedded on ships to reflect ambient light below, an alternative to torches. They make beautiful paperweights.
“When I sell something, I try to make it meaningful,” Clifford says. “When you first come in here, it transports you. You’re learning. There’s a lot of history and authenticity.”
The hatch covers are built with heart of pine that was cut in the Pacific Northwest and New England during World War II. They all come from the Diamond Head and Zane Grey. Kime and his team have used them to make desks, benches, TV consoles, coffee tables, kitchen bars. . . . The most extravagant piece Kime has done is a 72-inch conference table made out of a massive Liberty ship wheel.
“We modeled the bottom after a lighthouse, put the ship’s wheel on the top and covered it with a piece of glass,” Kime says. “We shipped it off to Florida to the CEO of a company.”
Kime thoroughly researches every piece. Sometimes items need to be restored or repainted back to their original color. “The lights will get new wire and new electrical components, and everything gets shined up really nice. When we restore things, we try to keep their originality.”
Kime doesn’t just experiment with Liberty ship pieces. Recently he bought a nearly 250-year-old 1,000-pound anchor salvaged in New York City. “All the rust is starting to solidify since it’s out of the water, and once it hardens, we’ll beat some of the biologics off of it and spray paint it black,” he says.
Kime aims to keep nautical traditions alive at his shop in Eastport. He wants people to visit and think, “This is a not a boring store.” He’s also happy to meet with people interested in a customized item (call 443-477-3789 or visit www.annapolismaritimeantiques.com for information).