For 20 years now, Hanna Dougher, chief operating officer of Freeman’s auction house (freemansauction.com), has been overseeing major changes at the nation’s oldest auction house. Now, as the venerable institution throws open the doors of its brand-new headquarters at 2400 Market St., Dougher is realizing the culmination of her efforts.
“We’re a completely different kind of business than we were in 1924 when we moved into 1808 Chestnut St.,” she says. Among its first auctions in its new home, Freeman’s will host American Art and Pennsylvania Impressionists Dec. 8. “The new space offers the best possible site for our clients and allows us to upgrade to the state-of-the-art technology that they require.” Plus, a second new venue across town—in The Civic, another adaptive reuse project at 1600 W. Girard Ave.—will cater to emerging markets and young collectors, and both locations promise a schedule of presentations tied to specific sales.
Since joining the business two decades ago, Dougher, chairman Alasdair Nichol, and President Paul Roberts (the three now own a majority stake in the business), have been instrumental in modernizing and restructuring Freeman’s, which was founded in 1805. They opened satellite offices around the country and established a European presence by partnering with Edinburgh-based Lyon & Turnbull. Along the way, the trio developed niches and hired specialists to fine-tune the auction house’s focus. “We’re excited about continuing these efforts while establishing a larger presence and enhancing our ability to serve old and new clients,” Dougher says.