The 500 block of Warren Street is considered by many to be Hudson’s busiest and most “desirable” location – a fact that makes the sight of its handful of recently unoccupied stores all the more noticeable. Perhaps that’s also the reason why landlords feel that having just a for-rent sign and a window covered in brown paper is not quite sufficient. I’ve noticed that many of the storefronts for nonexistent stores leave passersby scratching their heads about what exactly is going on (yes I’ve actually seen some scratching), as they stop and ponder wordless windows revealing rooms filled with stuff – or storefronts arranged so attractively that they look like operating businesses. This isn’t a bad thing at all: It’s just part of the fun of walking around this beguiling but quirky thoroughfare.
At the top of the list is 551 Warren Street (above). Formerly the locale of Noonan Antiques, we’ve seen, since former owner Tom Noonan retired and auctioned off his goods, the gorgeously detailed entranceway’s two-sided display windows filled with a variety of eye-catching items belonging to other establishments. This is perhaps the first time I’ve noticed a store for rent so convincingly staged, this time by the landlord The Caldwell Group, which enlisted the help of neighboring businesses to advertise a sample of their wares. These include Hudson City Books (553 Warren), which provided an impressive collection of Visionaire, an uber-fashionable magazine put together three times a year since 1991 and whose back issues have become enormously valuable in the intervening time. (For example, issue no.18, the “Fashion Special”, contained a Louis Vuitton pouch within its own leather and was reportedly sold at an auction for $5,000). Behind those and books such as Madonna’s Sex (“more about being laid out than being laid,” The New Yorker wrote at the time) are original Eames shelving from Mark McDonald (555 Warren); on the right side, Sutter Antiques (556 Warren) has filled the entire section with their mix of midcentury and more venerable beauties.
Right up the street is 557 Warren, being meticulously restored by John Knott and his partner John Fondas. Knott and Fondas are the kind of historic property owners that a landmarks commission dreams of. (They also just purchased the Home for the Aged at 620 Union Street and plan wonderful things for that as well.) From the last I’ve heard, Knott is still working on opening a branch of his Quadrille decorative arts empire in the Warren Street building, a part of which is his fabric outlet on Route 9 in Valatie. At the moment the storefront contains what looks like a neoclassical rattan (or bamboo) chest of drawers —pretty modest compared to the handsomely lush display that James Gottlieb (of Gottlieb Gallery- 524 Warren) put together for Knott previously but also not quite as potentially controversial (filled as the former was with antique blackamoores).
At the other end of the block, No 504 is a head scratcher. Formerly the location of Elijah Slocum, which moved to where Elements once was (508 Warren), there’s nothing in the window currently announcing any future tenant. Clearly visible inside, however, is a floor covered in rugs — nice ones too — a case perhaps of the wool being pulled under our eyes? — Scott Baldinger