“We did as much as we could to continue with the Williamsburg feeling in this store,” he said, “utilizing as much as I could from the old store.”
He even moved the centerpiece from the old store — a fireplace and mantel he had designed — to the new location.
“Williamsburg was always a great love of mine, Colonial Williamsburg, the restoration, so that was one of my ideas when I came in here, that I would do something that would be a Williamsburg-style store, using the beautiful reproductions and quality items that they carry,” he said.
Eventually, Peter Barter became a licensed dealer of Williamsburg reproduction gifts, furnishings and merchandise. The shop carried all the items from the collection, from wall coverings, carpeting, furnishings, fabrics and upholstery, not only from Williamsburg but other Colonial living history museums such as Monticello and Sturbridge Village. He even sat on the board of review for licensed products and attended seminars, traveling to Williamsburg four or five times a year.
“Flowers also reflected that period of design, 18th century, European, English,” he said.
A “12th descendant” of John Balch, one of Beverly’s original settlers, Peter Barter loved history while growing up in Beverly. He spent lots of time at the Beverly Historical Society, the Peabody Essex Museum and the Essex Institute.
“People ask me if I’m a native of Salem; I say ‘yes,’” he said. “My family was in Salem in 1626.”
Peter Barter is also a painter, with degrees from the Museum School (his time in college was interrupted by two years of service in the Army infantry during the Korean War) and the Art Institute of Boston. He worked as a commercial artist and would paint for tourists.
When he got married and started a family, he went to work in floral design with his brothers at Barter Brothers Flowers and Gifts on Cabot Street in Beverly, which today is run by Peter Barter’s nephew, David Barter. After one brother retired in 1973, and older brother, John, died in 1978, Peter Barter decided to strike out on his own.