It begins in the early 1950's. John Howard Leake, Sr. began trading in antiques from his home on a farm just south of York. Howard came home one day with a walnut sideboard tied down on top of the bags of grain loaded on his truck. Routine farm chores sent him throughout the countryside where he often encountered antiques that he bought out of the homes he called on. The antique business had begun, and continued from his home for several more years.
Howard and Zoe Leake
About 1955, John Howard Leake, Jr. (Buddy) bought property 3 miles north of York, our present location. Together and with help from friends, Howard and Buddy built a building to house their new antique shop. With Buddy still employed at a textile plant in Rock Hill, Howard and wife, Zoe, ran the business. Many an antique lover stopped by regularly to browse or sit and enjoy good conversation by the great fireplace. Sometime in the late 50's living quarters were added to the shop, and Zoe and Howard moved from the farm to their new business/residence. Today this original building serves as our showroom.
Eager to join his father full time in the antique business, Buddy left his textile job about 1965 and soon added a second building to house more antiques. This building has now become our workshop. It wasn't long before a third building was added to warehouse the "in the rough" antiques until they could be cleaned, repaired or refinished. At the height of the antique trade during the 1970's, all three buildings were packed with treasures awaiting a new home. This third building now warehouses our lumber.
Zoe and Howard "picked" mostly in the south, from the Carolinas to Florida. Buddy and wife, Winslow, picked mostly to the north, from Virginia to the Canadian Border. New York state was a favorite picking ground for Buddy, central Florida for Howard. By the late 1960's, Howard had semi-retired and Buddy ran the business until his death in 1983.
John H. Leake, Jr. (Buddy)
At the time of Buddy's death, John Howard Leake, III (John) was teaching shop in the Gaston County School System. After eight successful years of teaching, frustration was beginning to set in. When Buddy died, John decided to leave the school system to keep the family business going. Already making furniture and restoring antiques at night and on weekends, it was a natural transition into the business full time. It didn't take long, however, before John realized his true love was in furniture-making and, after a few years, the antique part of the business was phased out in favor of the reproductions. Some restoration work is still done.
John worked mostly alone for nearly 20 years until 2004 when, son, John Howard Leake, IV (Jay) graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in Furniture Manufacturing Technology. Following in the footsteps of the three generations before him, Jay knew what he was destined to do. Never hesitating, he came straight into the business and has no regrets. Blessed with his mother Susan's patience, Jay has become quite adept at inlay work and finishing, both of which have become signatures of their shop.
John at his lathe
Leake's Antiques has always been a true family business. Many times family members Zoe, Winslow, and Susan were called on to help load the truck, as were third generation members Steve, Beth and Carolyn. Everyone, including cousins, went on those long buying trips north and south. Phillip and Steven, both fourth generation Leakes, put in their time at the sanding table.
If the success of a business is measured in terms of longevity, then yes, Leake's Antiques is successful. Hard work and sacrifice by the entire family have kept things going forward. No great amount of money has ever been made here, but great friendships have. Over the course of five decades and four generations, we have been privileged to have been supported by many loyal customers, many of whom have purchased from all four generations. To our many friends and customers, we thank you for your loyalty, your friendship and your support.
1746 Filbert Highway • York, SC 29745 • 803 684-5651