Friday, October 4, 2013

Opera Manager Andrea Anson Opens The Doors To His Townhouse

"A New York townhouse filled with family heirlooms and antique treasures. In his 1830s Manhattan home, music-world consultant Andrea Anson lives amid colorful rooms layered with African artifacts, European accents, and fond memories. Most people prefer clarity over confusion: crisp thoughts, unequivocal conversations, and perfectly precise rooms where just enough is quite enough. Manhattanite Andrea Anson is not one of those people. Stepping inside the transitional Federal/Greek Revival townhouse of this classical-music power broker—he is a consultant to Columbia Artists Management, where he has guided the careers of superstars such as Deborah Voigt and Angela Gheorghiu—is like walking into another place and time. The front door closes, muffling the touristy clamor of SoHo just outside, and a virtual English country house suddenly comes into view. Gilt-framed portraits and landscapes punctuate the colorful walls, portly delft vessels march across the top of a doorway, and every floor is spread with a Turkish carpet or two. 'Believe it or not, this place started out very clean and spartan,' Anson says. Some 30 years ago, though, his mother and father—a widowed Italian duchess and a British Army officer who crashed into each other on a ski slope during World War II and fell in love—gave up their enormous apartment in Rome, along with the king’s ransom of antiques and art it contained. Anson flew over to see what he could take back to the U.S. Accompanying him was his partner, Gordon McCollum, a commercial real-estate executive with an encyclopedic knowledge of New York City architecture. (McCollum died in 2000.)....Decorative exuberance wasn’t McCollum’s
plan in 1970, when he acquired the then-derelict property. One of the city’s grand merchant’s houses, the 1834 structure had been ill-served by the passage of time. At some point it had been divided into apartments, and in the 1920s a speakeasy took over the parlor floor. (Repairs to the basement boiler uncovered evidence of a secret corridor through which tipsy flappers fled during police raids.) A fire escape had been added to the redbrick façade, and the home’s stone mantels had vanished. Enough charm remained, though, to entice McCollum to purchase the building, for about $17,000, settle into one of the cramped flats, and begin a restoration that expanded into the other spaces as tenants gradually departed. McCollum retrieved period architectural details from demolition sites in New York and transplanted an 1830s staircase from a condemned house in Connecticut. Off came the fire escape, and beige and white paints were brushed onto the plaster walls—a neutral background for a few sinewy American Colonial antiques. Then, in 1978, along came Anson. The couple’s meeting was as much a thunderbolt as the ski-slope collision that brought together Anson’s parents. As he recounts, 'A friend invited me to a dinner party here, and when Gordon opened the door, I was done for.' The alliance changed not only their lives but also their surroundings, as the pared-down decor swiftly evolved into an Anglophilic layer cake of styles and eras. As Anson explains, 'Gordon allowed himself to become much more playful after we met.'" [Source] More photos of the interior after the jump.





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