The Gilded Carriage, a longtime fixture of Woodstock for fine kitchen and housewares, is celebrating its 60th year. Owner Marina Basil says the store, which her mother, Mari Basil, opened in 1959, holds much more than six decades of Woodstock history within its walls; it also contains the memory and legacy of her mother, father, and sister.
The Gilded Carriage was originally located in the center of town, but moved to its present location across from the Woodstock Library in the mid-60s. Marina’s father Victor, a hairdresser and sculptor, expanded the then-small house to accommodate the store’s wares.
Marina’s mother Mari was an artist who refinished furniture and worked with gold leaf — hence the moniker, the Gilded Carriage. Mari also loved to cook. According to Marina, it was her mother’s fine taste and eye for design that set the store apart. “She used to create these beautiful displays,” said Marina.
To enter the Gilded Carriage today is to be immediately mesmerized by rows of colorful Le Creuset pots and pans, richly scented soaps and candles, custom-made towels, and ceramic dishware which cover the shelves and tables. The sunlight-suffused room to the right houses sculptural teapots and glittering glassware.
The store is also filled with the unexpected. Glance into the back room and you will find a massive totem pole, which Marina remembers her father Victor spontaneously buying for $50 from a passing man in a truck when she was a child.
According to Marina, the spirit of the Gilded Carriage has just as much to do with the wares it stocks as it does her and her family’s positivity and belief in caring for people. Marina remembers her mother having the Le Creuset salesmen over for dinner. “She went over and beyond for people,” she said.
In 1970, Victor Basil bought the train station which is currently the Station Bar and Curio. Formerly known as Brown’s Station, the old train station was originally part of the Ulster and Delaware train line and was located where the Ashokan Reservoir now sits. The station was moved in 1913 to avoid the flooding and operated as a train station elsewhere in Ashokan until 1954.
Marina recalls the day when she and her classmates at Woodstock Elementary School watched the train station building pass slowly by on its way to its new home on Tinker Street. Victor Basil turned the station into a beauty shop, where he worked for many years.
Marina’s sister Gig, worked with their mother, Mari, as her partner at the Gilded Carriage for many years. Marina recollects that Gig inherited their mother’s creative eye. “She had a style about her,” said Marina.
Marina left Woodstock in her twenties and started her own business, Basil Garden Supply. However, when her mother Mari passed away in 1996, Marina moved back to Woodstock to help her sister Gig run the store. She incorporated Basil Garden Supply into the Gilded Carriage.
In 2002, an electrical fire consumed the Gilded Carriage. According to Marina, the smoke and water damage to the building and the wares was “devastating.” Marina and Gig moved what remained of the store to the train station, and ran the Gilded Carriage from there during reconstruction of the original building. After four difficult years of rebuilding, they were able to reopen in 2006. “We weren’t going to walk away from this,” said Marina.
After Gig passed away in 2009, Marina took over as sole owner of the Gilded Carriage. Despite the changes that have occurred over her lifetime at the store and within Woodstock, Marina cherishes knowing people in the community and making them happy. “When people come in here and find something they like, it’s instant gratification,” she said.
Her plans for the future? “I’m proud to carry this on as long as I can,” Marina said.
To get free 60th anniversary raffle tickets for a chance to win prizes, visit the Gilded Carriage at 95 Tinker Street in Woodstock, or call the store at 845-679-2607.