In six months Bernard & S. Dean Levy will move from 24 East 84th Street in New York City to the third floor of 227 West 17th Street in Chelsea, trading a five-story townhouse for a 5200-square-foot loft.
“The furniture will be displayed on one floor in an open setting with especially designed lighting in a neighborhood with modern furniture galleries, Williams Sonoma, Brooks Brothers, Le Pain Quotidien, and Barneys,” said Frank Levy on the phone the day after he sold the firm’s 84th Street townhouse and made arrangements to stay until the new premises are designed and built. “The offices of Google and Facebook are around the corner, and Twitter is two doors away, and the old Bell Atlantic building has been turned into expensive condos. I hope that all the people who work and live there will become our customers,” Levy said as he continued extolling the advantages of the vibrant neighborhood. “The Chelsea Market is a block away, the Metropolitan Pavilion is a block north and block east. There are museums, the Rubin and the Whitney, at the end of the High Line not far away,” he continued.
He said 25 years ago he would not have considered such a move, but it is a different world today. “We don’t get much walk-in traffic anymore, and I realized when I started to exhibit at antique shows that my stuff looked so much better when you are not on top of it in our narrow building where it is hard to maneuver. After my father had a stroke six years ago, he lives three blocks away and could not manage the steps in a wheelchair.”
“When a developer made us a generous offer we began looking for loft space and found it on the third floor of a building with a freight elevator where we can install proper lighting, design open displays, hold special exhibitions, have a library, and where I can have a beautifully appointed office furnished with some of my favorite antiques and with a window. My office is now in the basement,” said Levy, who is impatient to move. “And now my father can come here. It will be ADA compliant,” he added. Moreover, Frank Levy said he will not miss being a building manager. “The superintendent deals with the inspections for the boilers and the elevators and all the city rules.”
He said that Ginsburg & Levy was founded in 1901 by his great-grandfather Isaac and Isaac’s brother-in-law, John Ginsburg, on Grand Street on the Lower East Side. As their sons, Benjamin Ginsburg and Bernard Levy, took over they kept moving uptown to the 50s and finally to 815 Madison. After Benjamin Ginsburg and Bernard Levy dissolved the firm in 1976, Bernard and his son S. Dean Levy moved to 77th Street in the Carlyle Hotel and then to 84th Street. “Now we are doing a 180-degree reverse move downtown to the West Side of New York, echoing the changes in the city.” Frank Levy, the fourth generation, observed, “I hope the move will expose a whole new group of people to American antiques, those who rarely travel above 42nd Street. The other day I was thinking that the late Martin Wunsch, who lived in Gramercy Park and came to the gallery often, would have found our new address more convenient.”