Michael Babb said the longer he operates the Ruby Slipper in an old Windham farmhouse and attached barn, the more he discovers about the building and its past.

It’s hard to say just what the real antiques are here — the artifacts for sale, or the buildings themselves.

In 1988, a few miles south of the rotary on Route 302, an old farmstead with acreage was purchased with no bathroom in the house and old braided cloth-covered “knob and tube” wiring.

This month marks 25 years of operation for the antique shop started by Babb, and John and Marilyn Faison. There are 14 dealers exhibiting inside.

One day the mid-to-late-19th-century home had an unassuming visitor perusing the antiques.

“She was a very quiet woman,” said Babb, 60. “I didn’t know who she was until she was getting ready to leave. She said, ‘I was born in this house and I lived here my whole life.”‘

With that, Babb knew at once who the lady was: Lelia Anthoine. He knew because the house had once been filled with all kinds of belongings and original papers left behind from its original family.

Anthoine told Babb that she needed to sell because her father was not well and the house did not have a working bathroom.

Anthoine has since passed. She had moved to Portland after leaving her longtime Windham home and said the best thing about living in the city was having hot water.

If you’ve been by this shop but never stopped in, you may be surprised to learn that along with the barn, the whole house is chock-full of antiques. Customers can browse two floors of innumerable items, from Oriental objects to old Americana.

Babb grew up in Maine and got into the antique business after working for Jordan Marsh at the Maine Mall for many years.

“I like working with the public,” he said.

He gets plenty of time to chat with customers at the Ruby Slipper and says running the antique store is “the most fun” he’s ever had.

“Most antique store owners I’ve talked to would never want to go back and do anything else other than this,” he said.

Babb has plenty of company. Along Windham’s Route 302 are several other antique shops. Babb said everyone refers customers to one another if a shopper is looking for a specific item; the relationship has benefited everyone and made the area a destination for antique lovers.

“It’s nice to be part of that community,” Babb said.

It seems the old farmhouse and barn has more than just old objects housed within. Babb said he’s felt a certain presence from time to time. A couple of customers familiar with the property told him there are spirits here.

Sometimes, Babb said, he felt like he was being watched when he was working late at night. One customer alleged that not only were there spirits here, but they were very happy with what he had done with the building.

“She was interesting and very lucid,” Babb recalled.

Who knows? Maybe that’s why the land never got built on by the developer who purchased it before Babb and the Faisons did. Perhaps someone from the past was simply protecting the past.

“The developer was going to put $300,000 homes here back in the late ’80s, but an economic downturn happened.” Babb said. “He was going to have this house destroyed — either burned or torn down.”

Now, there appears to be another 25 years of antiquing to be had here.

Don Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Raymond. He can be reached at:

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