What was once a water-filter factory that just happened to be plunked down next door to the birthplace of democratic government in New York State is now the Senate Garage.
The building at the corner of Fair and North Front streets bought a while back by New York City folk Don and Judy Tallerman also hosts Rhino Records and the “Google-ish” offices of the Tallermans’ DragonSearch Internet marketing firm.
“My husband and I have always wanted to buy an industrial building and convert it into something,” said Judy Tallerman at last week’s open house. “This is amazing — it’s an industrial space next to these beautiful grounds.”
Originally the plan was to rent out the downstairs portion which was turned into the Senate Garage, but a tenant could not be lured and the Tallermans, Judy said, didn’t want to divide it. And, Judy said, they received a few requests from people looking to get married “in the space as raw space.” So, they recruited Woodstock-based designer Mari Mulshenock to help them transform the “filthy” old factory into a clean and cool-looking place for events of all kinds. It’s set up for caterers and can hold about 550 people.
Judy Tallerman and Mulshenock collaborated on the design, which preserves some of the building’s visually striking industrial era/Steampunk elements and adds retro-modern touches like Edison lamps.
“We were pretty much trying to keep the existing architectural steel and the industrial feeling, with a soft tone to it,” said Mulshenock.
“We wanted to keep the industrial space authentic,” said Judy. “We wanted to keep the concrete floor [which is now polished] and we wanted to keep the open ceiling, but we wanted to create an elegance as well.”
Substantial elegance is indeed provided by an alcove called “The Red Velvet Room.” While the ghosts of Stanford White and Evelyn Nesbit might bemoan the lack of a swing, the comfy antique furniture that is there helps the space serve as either a lounge or a separate, close off-able area for a bride to prepare herself.
The process took about two years, in total — DragonSearch and Rhino set up their shops in 2014; finishing the Garage took about six months.
“I’m looking for all major events to be held here,” said Garage manager Carl Harris, who, conveniently, is also park supervisor of the Senate House site. “Corporate, weddings, business parties — I want to open it up to the general public. I want people to understand we have a place here that’s available, that’s very reasonable, price-wise.”
Harris, who’s worked at the Senate House for the last 30 years, noted that Uptown is “evolving very quickly” and said it’s a huge plus to have this kind of a space in a neighborhood emerging at a rapid pace. “I truly feel we’re on the verge of something,” he said, pointing out that several new hotel projects are on the drawing board for the area. “That means tourism. That means people coming here, looking for spaces.”
“We’re actually getting people from Brooklyn, which is wonderful,” said Judy.
Harris added that the Garage is cooperating with the state to offer a package where both the indoor space and the garden can be used.
Weddings are a different kind of tourist attraction, one which can bring guests to places they maybe/probably wouldn’t have visited of their own free will. Speaking of which, joked Judy, “If anyone needs to have a shotgun wedding, have them call us because we’re a new venue and have a lot of availability for the summer.”