Oldies But Goodies
On a back road in Maine, not far from where I grew up, is Bryant Stove Works. Owned by Joe and Bea Bryant, the company’s name belies its quirkier side. Yes, they do have lots of stoves. They buy, repair, and sell classic old wood stoves—the kind you remember warming your feet on at your grandparents’ farm when you were a kid. When a unique one comes into the shop, they might keep it, adding to a
collection described by the Antique Stove Association in a 2011 newspaper article as the largest in the United States. Joe is one of those guys that you find sprinkled across rural America—folks that are smart enough to work for NASA but would rather stay close to family, friends, and
their childhood deer hunting hot spots.
Too clever to stick with just stoves, Joe began messing with steam engines; old musical equipment (player pianos, calliopes, hurdy-gurdies, carousels, and Wurlitzers); trains; and antique cars, eventually starting what the Bryants call their museum. Want to crank up the player piano and sing the oldies but goodies for an hour or so? Joe’s up for that. Interested in wood stove technology? Joe can tell you in granular detail how clever Yankees were at solving wood stove efficiency challenges while creating functional artwork
when Maine was just becoming a State in 1820.