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Call to Arts at the Armory

Armory Corridor

Tiffany Craftsmanship

On Wednesday night, I stopped by the Park Avenue Armory for the opening night preview of Antiques & Art, produced by Avenue Shows. Approximately 50 dealers showcased collections, which included furniture from the 17th century through mid-century modern; fine silver; Russian antiquities and art; Asian textiles and art; first-edition books; and vintage and fine jewelry.

Standing on the coat check line in the long central corridor, I was captivated by the magnificent chandeliers, glass and paneling, all designed in the Renaissance Revival style. The Armory abounds with ornate stone carving, metalwork and bronze casting. It’s an eclectic mix that envelopes you in the detail and artistry of New York’s Gilded Age, minus the excess.

I encourage you to explore the reception rooms the next time you attend an event in this incomparable building on East 67th Street, the home of the Seventh Regiment Armory, N.Y. National Guard. Charles W. Clinton, the architect of the Armory, had been a member of the regiment. As a partner in the firm Clinton and Russell, he went on to design prominent residential buildings, including The Apthorp and The Langham on the Upper West Side. Built between 1878-1880 and declared a Landmark in 1967, the Armory contains magnificent interiors, designed by masters of the American Aesthetic Movement. The New York City Landmarks Commission described them as “the single most important collection of 19th century interiors to survive intact in one building,”

It is the only armory in the United States to be built and furnished with private funds. Members of the prestigious Seventh Regiment included Van Rensselaers, Roosevelts, Stewarts, Livingstons and Harrimans. For the Reception Rooms on the first floor and the Company Rooms on the second floor, they selected the most prominent designers and artists of the day including Louis Comfort Tiffany, Stanford White and the celebrated Herter Brothers.

Veteran Room

Veteran Room

The Library

The Library

Take a moment to visit the Veteran Room and the adjacent Library. These were designed in 1880 by Associated Artists, a cooperative group led by Tiffany, with White as the consulting architect. The Veteran Room as been described as “Greek, Mooresque, and Celtic with a dash of the Egyptian, the Parisian and the Japanese.” Against this exotic backdrop, the Regiment members in fatigues often gather for informal meetings and recreation. The Library is devoid of books, but the cases are filled with historic trophies and medals. It is largely thought to be White’s design except for the lighting fixtures and windows by Tiffany.

Albert Hadley, Mica Ertegun, Mario Buatta

Hadley, Ertegun & Buatta

As I entered the large exhibition hall, Bill Cunningham was photographing guest-of-honor Mario Buatta with Christopher J. Cyphers, the president of The New York School of Interior Design (NYSID). Soon, design legends Albert Hadley and Mica Ertegun, who are on the NYSID Board, joined the tableaux. Founded in 1916, NYSID is New York’s only private, not-for-profit college devoted exclusively to interior design education and related disciplines.

Mid-Century Furniture from Gary Rubinstein Antiques

Mid-Century Desk from Gary Rubinstein Antiques

Matisse Lithographs

Matisse Lithos from Dinan & Chighine

After the preview party, a dinner at the Metropolitan Club was to be held in Mr. Buatta’s honor. The NYSID is renaming its materials library and primary student workspace, The Mario Buatta Materials Atelier. Interior designer Richard Mishaan headed up a committee of 30 designers to create innovative “tablescapes” inspired by the Prince of Chintz.

Browsers in Sable

Sable Slinging

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Palm Beach Color

The gems at Hollis Reh & Shariff and Waldmann Van Lennep received particular attention from the well-turned-out crowd, which was a mix of designers, real estate professionals and socially prominent New Yorkers. HWPR doyenne Harriet Weintraub seemed to know everyone and Anne and Amanda Young of Brown Harris Stevens headed up the real estate contingent.

Picking up bits and pieces of conversation, I noticed an inescapable buzz that seemed to involve square footage and amenities. Considering the number of designers and brokers in attendance, perhaps this was only natural. However, the almost giddy atmosphere suggested that some New Yorkers are ready to get in the game again.

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