By STEVE KAUFMAN
Tucked in behind the highly visible Barry Wooley Design Studio on the corner of East Main and Campbell streets is a â€“ what? â€“ private club, hangout, event space, dance floor, party room, artistâ€™s studio, musicianâ€™s jam room, salvage warehouse, storage room, antique stall, rental property or (to use that currently way overused term) man cave.
Actually, itâ€™s a little of all of those, an unrented space in the large industrial complex that the owner â€“ an inveterate collector as well as ping pong player â€“ has turned into a multi-use setting thatâ€™s mostly the World of Imagination.
Itâ€™s dark and dim with the windows bricked-over, a room of mystery, and that includes the identity of the proprietor, whoâ€™d prefer his name not be used. But when thereâ€™s a party going on, itâ€™s easy to see the vibe of a 1970s disco scene.
Its various functions â€“ whether for parties or collectors and shoppers â€“ grew pretty much organically.
â€œI bought the property eight years ago, and this unused space started out as a place for my friends and me to play ping pong. We had a weekly Pong Club. But word of mouth spread, and pretty soon people were showing up here at night, just to hang out.â€
Like a speakeasy, but without a special knock or secret password.
â€œI was also renting out the upstairs to artists and musicians, and they would come in here to take a break from their work.â€
Cool, interesting, creative people attract other cool, interesting, creative people.
â€œAnd, as one of my sidelines, I do visual design for music festivals, like Forecastle. So Iâ€™d store my props in here.â€
Eventually, all that storage comprised a collection. And everything in the room is also for sale.
There are period pieces, like old neon beer signs, formica kitchen tables from the â€™40s and â€™50s, a set of 1930s kitchen appliances that came out of a barn, a bowling table from a bar with a functioning electronic scoreboard, an old sanded shuffleboard table, vintage furniture and clothing, medicine bottles, liquor bottles and World War Two-era beeswax candles.
There are the electronics from the past that youâ€™d expect â€“ cathode ray TV sets and turntable Victrolas â€“ and one you wouldnâ€™t expect: a set of movie video discs and a Hitachi video disc player, the home entertainment device that had a very short limelight in the late 1970s, between reel-to-reel film and the emergence of VHS tape cassette technology.
The discs are about the size of old record albums (which is what you think they are at first). Theyâ€™re mostly useless without the projector but the covers still make good wall-hangings, the way people frame and hang movie posters.
They also provide a great entertainment feature during the parties here. On a recent afternoon, the projector was playing â€œAnd God Created Woman,â€ the steamy 1956 French movie that made an international controversy out of Brigitte Bardot.
â€œI found them at a flea market. I paid $25 for the entire set, including the projector!â€
There are odds and ends, like a set of lobster traps and muskrat traps and an old department store Santa. And the room is strewn with artistsâ€™ work, like a coffee table made out of a tractor tire, with the cover of an old, very large film reel serving as the tabletop.
Perhaps the most expensive item in the room is an original horsehair-covered Le Corbusier recliner chair from the 1960s.
Upstairs is an identical room, except completely empty, which he rents out to artists or musicians.
â€œThe cars in front of Garage Bar were retrofitted here.â€
Thereâ€™s yet another room on the property full of more stuff, including a Triumph convertible from the 1970s or â€™80s. While these items are for sale, most of them can also be moved into the party room or rented out as props.
The room is still for rent. A big sign outside says FOR LEASE: RETAIL CORNER AVAILABLE.
â€œSomeone could turn it into a cool bar or restaurant.â€
Before that happens, to reserve the room, or any part of the property, for a party â€“ or to rent the office space â€“ or to make an appointment to shop the gallery of items â€“ or just to come down for a game of ping pong â€“ call 502.819.5405.
Photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune