Restoration Hardware, which these days goes by “RH,” had its long awaited ribbon-cutting and grand opening on Friday at 310 Greenwich Ave. The store opened in the historic building that was home to Greenwich’s main Post Office for decades.
RH CEO Gary Friedman said of the building that was constructed in 1917, “Really, only once in a lifetime does a building of this stature come up.”
“Buildings like this aren’t built any more. It’s almost too expensive to build buildings like this, so when we have an opportunity to be associated with a building like this, it’s such an honor. The work that goes into these buildings is not seen in this day and age.”
Friedman said that in working in partnership with Peter Malkin’s real estate development company he participated in the bidding process. “My direction was, ‘Don’t lose that bid,’ because only once in a lifetime do buildings of this stature come up.”
Friedman said restoring the building involved the architect going back to the building’s original plans.
“It wasn’t perfectly balanced or symmetrical,” he said, adding that the loading dock are had to be corrected. “We brought the building back outside so it is balanced.”
The RH CEO said that the inside of the building had actually been hollow beyond the mailboxes. “The back of the building was a working mail facility, and there was no interior architecture except for a handful of small offices,” he said.
Friedman described how the architect designed the interior so that it radiated off the war monument out front. “He designed a beautiful layout that respected the geometry, the windows, sight lines and natural light.”
“We’re really grateful to the Town of Greenwich to help us reimagine this building, and think about how we might put a second level on the building. The second level is within the edifice,” Friedman said, adding that he agreed with the Town’s insistence on that compromise, though at one point he said RH had proposed that the building have three levels.
CEO Friedman said the RH team worked until 3:00am moving goods from the 236 Greenwich Avenue location to the new store in time for Thursday night’s party. The good news for those workers was that the trek was all downhill. As of Friday at 12:00 noon the windows of the original Restoration Hardware location were covered with brown paper and a sign on the doors said the store was closed.
“I never thought it could really happen. Sometimes dreams really can come true,” said Friedman moments before RH employees shouted a countdown from 10 down to one. The ribbon was cut, and the doors of the store flung open to the curious crowd who had gathered.
Inside, where once postal clerks sold stamps and helped with passport applications, sat an elegant bedroom set. Where once walls of P.O. boxes were arranged so keyholders could see if they had mail, white upholstered sofas, chairs and coffee tables looked inviting.
RH is located at 310 Greenwich Ave. Tel. (203) 552-1040
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