Stepping into Helpful Hannah’s House is like entering a museum of domestic life from generations past. Part antique shop and part historical home, this local business is like no other.
The house is located on 840 Grand Avenue, just south of Horace White Park. It is open every Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the first Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
On my first visit, my initial reaction is to walk carefully and keep my hands flat at my sides. There are a lot of things to break in here. A few customers browse through the rooms of the house, each one filled to capacity with antiques. Lustrous oil lamps perch in the corner of the sitting room. Ornately framed mirrors adorn the walls. Full sterling silver tea sets sprawl across any accommodating surface.
And these are just the front rooms. The whole house, from the basement to the second story, is similarly stocked. In the kitchen, volunteer shopkeepers from several local churches chat, polish antiques, and talk with customers as they drift through the house. A Michael Jackson tune plays on an old stereo in the corner.
One volunteer offers to find a “weird” item for me to look at. She turns up an old pocket watch chain—made of human hair.
“That is weird. I’ve never seen anything like that,” I say, snapping a photo.
“That’s because you’re only a kid,” she replies without a beat. Can’t argue with that.
Helpful Hannah’s House is one of the oldest family homes in Beloit, dating back to the early 1900s. The homeowners were active in St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, and in 1970 they donated the house to the church. It became a site for occasional estate sales, and soon thereafter the church decided to use it as an antique shop. Today, over 100 vendors sell their antiques on consignment through Helpful Hannah’s House.