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This article by Jamie Saxon was prepared for the December 21, 2005
issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Vintage Hotel Furnishings: In the Galleries
Now a piece of furniture is hard to wrap, surely, but this furniture
would be a fabulous gift – for someone on your list or better yet,
yourself. Mercer Corporate Interiors, at 2901 Route 1, recently
purchased the contents of the famed 1904 Beaux Arts landmark St. Regis
Hotel on Fifth Avenue in New York. All the pieces were manufactured in
Europe, in the luxurious, Louis XVI style – draperies, marble-topped
tables, entertainment armoires with mahogany inlays, lamps with
crystal and silk shades, custom-made feather down sofas with matching
side chairs, and headboards.
"This is very opulent stuff," says Mercer Corporate Interiors general
manager Ralph Finaldi. "We even have the mini-fridges and wall-mounted
cabinets for plasma TVs with Louis XVI fronts." It is on view "until
they kick us out," says Finaldi, in display windows at Princeton
Forrestal Village, along with artwork from Cody Eckert Fine Art, a
division of Cody Eckert and Associates Architects.
Finaldi says the major part of Mercer Corporate Interiors’ business
for the last 35 years has been liquidation, primarily office
furniture. "However, in the last few years, we’ve had opportunities
with hotels, such as the Grand Hyatt in New York, and the St. Regis
this year. Hotels don’t want to close during renovation, so they just
close one floor at a time, and we acquire the furniture. The St. Regis
website has some photos of typical ‘old’ rooms, that’s what we took
out." In addition to the displays at Forrestal Village, the furniture
is stored in two New Jersey warehouses, one in Newark and one in
Fairfield, as well as at the Lawrenceville location.
So who’s buying this stuff? "We’ve sold to B and Bs and some smaller
boutique hotels, mostly in New England and the Cape Cod area. We sold
15 rooms to someone who is completely redoing a big old house," says
Finaldi. Mercer Corporate Interiors will also sell to individuals. And
we are talking amazing bargains. The entertainment armoires, which,
says Finaldi, cost about $6,000 each when the St. Regis purchased
them, are selling for $600 each. Finaldi says that interested
individuals should go to Forrestal Village and check out the window
displays, where signage will direct them to contact Cody Eckert Fine
Art at 206 Rockingham Row in Forrestal Village, 609-716-8500. They
will make appointment for you to visit one of the warehouses or the
"What’s interesting," says Finaldi, "is that as soon as this furniture
started to arrive at our locations, the response was absolutely
phenomenal, because the St. Regis was a landmark hotel." He shares a
little high-end hotel trivia. "You know, the St. Regis really has an
Old Guard who stay there on a regular basis or even live there. When
the St. Regis decided to re-do the rooms, they had some photographs of
the new look, which they shared with these guests, who were not
thrilled. So the hotel kept certain pieces for each room just to
retain a flavor of the old, but the rooms, by and large, now have a
lighter look, still very beautiful."
Finaldi has just finished acquiring the furniture from another hotel,
the Sheraton Russell, a boutique hotel in Chelsea in New York City,
which someone bought to convert to condos. And in about a month,
Finaldi will get the goods from a hotel in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
He’s even got his eye on a few pieces for himself. "You come across
some really beautiful pieces," he says, "like a bombe chest with
ormolu (gold metal embellishment)."
– Jamie Saxon
Display of Louis XVI-style furniture and artwork, throughout Princeton
Forrestal Village, Route 1 south. Furniture from the Beaux Arts
landmark St. Regis hotel in New York. Watercolors by Cody Eckert, as
well as artwork by several Princeton artists including Rosemary Miles
Blair; Walter Marz, a professional photographer whose work has been
featured in Audubon, New Jersey Outdoors, People, Reader’s Digest, and
Nature Photographer; and Oriental-influenced landscapes and floral
paintings by Phyllis Lifschutz of Princeton. 609-716-8500.
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