I went to visit Richard Wrightman in Long Island City and was in for an unexpected treat.
It was enough just to visit Richard & his incredible furniture (check out my blog) but I had not expected the basement of the building he occupies would be so full of history, stories & intrigue! Its owner is Eleanor Ambrose.
The building was an electrical goods warehouse/factory back in the day. It is sprawled over 4 floors, each floor about 6000 square feet. Eleanor purchased it around 30 years ago as a storage space for her furniture and many bits n’ bobs.
The story goes that Eleanor (who is now in her 80s) was a decorator to ambassadors. She would loan out furniture, artwork & objet d’art for their temporary abodes. She picks up salvage from the sidewalks of NYC (the ultimate recycling ground where ‘one man’s junk is another man’s treasure’ is put into action). She continues to drive around in a truck always on the ready to pick up wall panelling doors, lights, lamps, tubs & showers.
Her massive collection of furniture is spread over the levels in clever sectioned off areas using the salvaged interiors of walls & doors she has picked up. Some of the floors are cleared and uncluttered for rental for parties, shoots & shenanigans (oh you can imagine a lot of them). One resembles a French chateau! Think painted old wooden floors, panelling, secret rooms, layers of wallpaper – see the pictures to get the gist. Its cavernous, fantasy, magic, industrial. I had the best time ever!
It has a rooftop with spectacular views of the breathtaking Queensborough bridge & the classic Silvercup sign, a Pentshack sits quietly on the roof, a path of wooden crates/slates leading the way to the one room structure. A comfortable sofa, a chinese gong & scattering of occasional furniture sets the scene. You can imagine whiling the night away over conversation, debate, song & lots of wine !
Although I didn’t met Eleanor, she looks like a Gypsy Queen, and I know I would adore her.