I absolutely love the windows of E.R. Butler & Co.. Really, to call these windows is to do them a disservice. Located on the north side of Prince Street between Lafayette and Mulberry, they are four vitrines, tall, deep, grand, used over the last three years to great effect to showcase the work of high-end, indie accessory, jewelry and furniture designers such as Ted Muehling, Philip Crangi, Wendy Stevens and Chris Lehreke.
The displays are always dramatic. And the windows have an air of mystery. Incongruously embossed in gold at their base is “E.R. Butler & Co. | Manufacturers”. There is no immediately discernable relationship between display content and proprietor name. Manufacturers of what?
Curtains hanging in the back of the windows prevent any scoping of the building’s interior space for clues. And it’s not entirely clear where the entrance to E.R. Butler & Co. even is—is it the set of large, unmarked double doors to the left or the right of the windows? Screw up your courage to buzz the doors to the left, and you’ll find yourself in the showroom of one of the top decorative hardware stores in the country, selling not hammers, nails and lumber, but painstakingly designed and produced hinges, doorknobs and floor stops to the architectural trade.
Founded in 1990 by E. Rhett Butler, E.R. Butler & Co. has been doing heritage craft work for two decades, jumping in long before it became the recessionary new-new thing. And having acquired one of its partners along the way, E.R. Butler & Co. now traces its roots back to the early 1800’s. The building that it’s housed in even boasts, fittingly, an American heritage, it turns out. It was, at one point, one of Tiffany & Co.’s original silver workshops.
If you’re in the market for Early American, Federal or Georgian period fixtures, E.R. Butler & Co. is where to come. And if your tastes skew more modern or sleek, there are items produced in partnership with some of the designers who have been featured in the windows. Ted Muehling’s butterfly drawer pulls are exquisite, as are Chris Lehreke’s spare, architectural pieces.
As exacting as the clients he works with, Butler has set up a 140,000 sq ft. manufacturing facility in Red Hook, Brooklyn, where he and his artisan staff apply new technologies to old designs—which is what has earned him his top-notch reputation as more than just a reproduction house. (Tantalizingly, from there he also designs and manufactures select pieces for partner Kiki de Montparnasse, purveyor of luxe erotica.)
On Tuesday this week the latest windows were unveiled—sculptured light fixtures by Lindsey Adelman Studio. There’s an opening reception next Thursday evening, February 24th, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. Details can be found here. A handful of photos of past displays can be found here. E.R. Butler & Co. also has showrooms in Boston and Milan.