15 February 2012

"The Palace of Trade" Returns to New York

I had a meal recently at a newish Park Slope eatery named Talde. The food was good. But what really caught my attention was the woodwork surrounding the bar, lining the windows and demarcating the partition between the barroom and the dining area. So ornate and particular and exotic. It seems too well-crafted to be new. Could it be a reclaimed relic?

Curious, I asked the management. My hunch proved correct.

The owners had salvaged the woodwork from an antique warehouse in Pennsylvania. All of it, combined, used to compose the "oriental study" in the upstate New York mansion of David Constable in the early 20th century.

Constable was a wealthy man. He was the owner of a big department store chain, one of the oldest in the U.S. Arnold Constable & Company operated from 1825 to 1975, catering to what was once known as the "carriage trade." (James married founder Aaron Arnold's daughter.) It's flagship store (the building still stands) was at 881-887 Broadway at 19th Street. Like many merchants of his kind, he started down near the waterfront, on Front Street. In 1857 the store moved to 309-311Canal Street, at Mercer—another building which still stands. By 1897, the company was the fifth largest real-estate owner in New York City. The building on 19th Street was referred to as "The Palace of Trade" by the papers. In 1925, Constable & Co. joined with the specialty retailer Stewart & Company and expanded into the suburbs.

The carved wood pieces were the creations of Maeda Yasube Yoshitsugu from Osaka, Japan. He was known for his work on shrines in the Nagano Prefecture during the Edo Period around the mid 1800s.

1 comment:

upstate Johnny G said...

wow, Brooks, great find! Sent me straight to goog to find out more! Arnold and Constable were two different guys, it seems. The company was A. Arnold and then Arnold Hearn when Mr. Arnold brought some family members in as partners, and then later James M. Constable became a partner and married one of Arnold's daughters....(which one came first I don't know)....but Constable is said to have come over from England (his birthplace) on a vacation in 1836 and liked America so much he never went home. Here's a link to his obit in the Times....