Built in 1903, Westfield's Flatiron building has been restored to its original design.
WESTFIELD, NJ – A recently gussied up building in the downtown is the latest location to house an upscale New York City-based clothing retailer.
The restoration of the historic Flatiron building at Quimby and Elm streets, funded with a grant from Downtown Westfield Corp., included the reclamation of stained glass windows and removal the building’s old façade, revealing the structure’s original cast-iron columns.
Local officials and business leaders on Thursday visited the historic spot for the official opening the building’s new occupant, the clothier J. McLaughlin.
The shop in Westfield, with its brass piping showing from the ceiling, black cast-iron lines and wooden flooring, has a home-like feel to it.
But that hasn’t always been the case.
In its 115-year history, the building's tenants have included a funeral home and real estate offices, Sherry Cronin, vice president of the Westfield Historical Society said.
“A lot of the original architectural features were at some point covered up,” said Cronin, who is also executive director of Downtown Westfield Corp. “But from our historic photos that we had in our archives, I knew what was behind there.”
Andrew Calcagno, the building owner and contractor on the job, said his intent, at first, was to do a small renovation, but when he started the work, he uncovered a beauty.
“I realized the prior owners hid all the architectural beauty of the building, including the 100-year-old cast iron beams and the 100-year-old cast-iron fluted columns in the front,” Calcagno said. “This ceiling was only 9 feet tall, we realized it had originally been 12 feet tall.”
Workers restored supporting beams with crushed walnut shells and corncob and then clear-coated, he said.
Westfield resident Donna Slevin, of Kick Glass Art in Cranford, restored the stained glass windows to the establishment. The windows had been stored in the archives of the Westfield Historical Society, Calcagno said.
The apartments above the clothier, which are being renovated, will be ready to rent within about two weeks, said Calcagno, who gained the planning board’s approval for rooftop use above the apartments.
“On the second floor is an apartment and the third floor is an apartment, with a private rooftop deck with all the brick exposed,” he said.
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How did J. McLaughlin land a location in Westfield?
“When you are in nice towns like Princeton, Summit and Morristown, people say ‘Gee, you should be in Westfield,’” said Kevin McLaughlin, a co-founder of the retailer. “If I hear it from enough customers, that tells me something. It’s a lovely town.”
The store sells both men’s and women’s clothing, what McLaughlin called “step-up sportswear,” in the 1,000-square-foot storefront.
A resident of New York City’s Upper East Side, McLaughlin’s shop in Westfield will bring the number of J. McLaughlin stores to 136 nationwide, he said. Two full-time and two part-time employees will work in the Westfield store, he said.
“Everything that’s in the store we make ourselves,” said McLaughlin, who attributes his success to a high level of customer service, the unique product and the residential-looking of interiors of his stores.
“No two stores are exactly alike," McLaughlin said. "But you can always tell when you are in one of our stores."
Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at email@example.com; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh
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