We, David and I, bought the building in 2005, June to be exact. It was love at first sight. We were living in Teaneck, New Jersey at the time and I (Bill) was planning to retire from the corporate world soon. We were looking to move back home, closer to friends and family and I also knew I wanted/needed something to keep me busy and something with open space. I felt that there had never been enough time or space to do all the things that I had wanted to do in my past life. I wanted to get my hands dirty. I was bored with just watching HGTV. David and I share the love of the Arts and Craft movement - bold but simple, functional but not over done. We found everything we were looking for here at the LOOM and much more.
The building had not been used and was neglected for many years. The only signs of life were left behind by vandals that had broken into the building. The broken windows were boarded up. It had been stripped of it doors, lighting fixtures, equipment and its dignity. What was left behind was the trash of days and years gone by. Its electric and plumbing were shot, but yet it stood tall and proud and ready to endure a new life. We saw the potential. I’m glad we have been able to give the LOOM a new life.
Everyone ask why The LOOM? Does it mean anything? The answer is yes. The name was taken from the corner stone of the building. The building was designed and built for the Loyal Order of Moose. It was erected, and the corner stone laid, in 1922. Everyone in the area knew the location and called it by the “Old Moose Building” for some eighty years. We needed to sever this connection but still pay homage its past history. So we took the name off the corner stone - L.O.O.M. Now we are known, locally, as The LOOM (formerly the Moose). Maybe in another eighty years the formerly will be dropped!
In the fall/winter of 2005 we started working on the third floor - formerly The Ballroom, with a full stage at the east end and a balcony at the west end of the floor. It became our residence. A new kitchen and a full bathroom were added to make it our home. It was restored and repaired to its original design. Doors and light fixtures were reinstalled; all of the electrical service and plumbing were replaced. (Two unsafe outlets were not going to cut it in this day and age.) We were able to start living in our new home on Christmas Eve 2005.
In Spring of 2006 we started on the second floor, the main Reception Hall. Now that the windows had been replaced and the boards removed, the walls, ceiling and floor all showed their need for repair. And let’s not forget the need to get rid of the trash of years long past. All the walls needed to be re-plastered. There were several walls where the plaster was totally gone and the rest needed to be repaired. I lost count of the buckets of mud it took. I may have done too good of a job because they look original to the building. David (alias, Michelangelo) took over and started painting. I discovered under the layers of chipped and crumbling paint which covered the floor an original decorative red brick dust dyed concrete floor. Against opposition I forged ahead and started scraping the paint off by hand. I thought it would be easy and it was in some spots, but over all 4000 plus square foot it was a challenge, a labor of love. I take full responsibility and am proud to say it looks pretty good. It shows its age, its life, but don’t we all. (Please note: I, David, spent many, many hours also hand scraping paint off the floor. For me, this was no labor of love, but quite possibly a sure way to ruin a business partnership! I don't recommend taking on this task to anyone for any purpose!)
The outside steps on both the main Waverly Street entrance and the Elizabeth Street entrance were disintegrating due to age and weather conditions. They were unsafe for use. What to do? Repair, restore, replace, the same question has came up with every decision we have had to make. We opted to replace half and restore the balance. Jack hammers took out the old crumbling concrete steps and the huge concrete pillars that flanked each side of the steps and new steps were poured. The iron railing on the front steps is new, our own design. With the help of a local artesian, Mike Hansen of Metal Fusion, the railing was pieced together. It became the inspiration for our logo It really represented nothing but when I look at it ,I see New life, Growth and Hospitality and that is what we stand for.
In the late fall 2006 we were approached by the Ladies Huskies Gymnastics and Competition cheerleading team. They were in need of indoor practice space. Although we were not done with the renovations to the Reception Hall, we worked out a deal. We worked on the space during the day and they used the space for practice in the evenings. As the Tag line says; space for any occasion. It proved to be a great relationship, they even returned the next year. When the girls are here there is life and energy again between these walls of The LOOM.
In August of 2007 we had our first big event; David’s niece Jody’s wedding reception. The push was on to have everything in place by her wedding date. The catering kitchen had to be finished. The service bar was being built by another local artisan, Craig Murray of Custom Design. Just two days before her wedding the last piece of equipment, the dishwasher, was installed. Everything was as perfect and elegant as it we had hoped it would be.
With two floors finished and one more to go, we moved our efforts down to the lowest level. Although all the floors had their own unique challenges and degrees of repairs needed, this floor, by far was the worse. All the years the building sat vacant, busted roof drains were pouring water into the space. We had the drains repaired shortly after we moved in, but had done nothing else to repair the damages done. The ceiling and the walls on that side of the room had to be gutted and replaced. Past decorating/renovating efforts had chopped up the space into three separate areas. Solid Walls had been erected in front of walls. There were walls built in front of windows which blocked any natural light from entering the room. There had been a second, or maybe it was the third, decorating/renovting effort done in the 50's or 60's. We took what was given us and, inspired by an “ugly” hanging light fixture that we found at a local auction house, The LOOM Cabernet (TLC) was created. An eclectic mixture of original Arts and Crafts style, speakeasy and retro past with a splash of disco. We removed the planters and trophy case that separated the space. We removed the top of walls that hid the windows and natural light behind. The shag carpet was trashed. I think this room will be our most popular fun space, I know it’s mine.
Aside from the note earlier concerning the scraping of the floor paint, Bill has recalled an accurate depiction of the work we have done. With the exception of the electric and the plumbing, and some walls in the lowest level, we were able to do all the work and repairs ourselves. The help of family and friends made the process much easier, and we couldn't be more thankful for those who gave so freely of their time, their support and most importantly to me, their continual encouragement and praise for the work we were doing. To quote one of my family members, "I thought you were crazy when you bought the place." Anyway, back to doing the work ourselves - this was no easy task for someone who had used a hammer and screwdriver only to pass a required course in stage crafting & building at college, more than a few decades ago. Not surprisingly, not so good with the hammer and screwdrivers! (Although I did learn to become quite a terror during the demolition phase). As a result of my almost total lack of ability in this area, by default I became the painter. This, however, became an asset, as it gave us the ability to go on and do our own work without getting in each other's way, and without trying to force one or the other to do it "their way".
Throughout the entire process there are two things I have definately learned. 1.) Whoever was working on the particular task first has ownership of the task, and the only way to do the task correctly is to do it "their way". 2). Apparently the history books are wrong, and Rome really was built in one day! (This is in reference to the many 12+ hour days, and weekends that I none-too-happily put into this building. "All work and no play...", you know the rest).
Now that the end is in sight, we both wonder what we will do to fill our days...and what other things we will find to disagree and dispute over. Something tells me that will not be a problem!