Billy’s Antiques to Lose Iconic Tent; Two-Story Building Coming Soon
The New York Times is reporting this morning that Billy’s Antiques & Props, a fixture on the Bowery for over two decades, is about to lose its defining feature. Its ginormous tent structure. In fact, the entire footprint will soon give rise to a new two-story brick building, with antique dealer as one tenant. Proprietor Billy Leroy told the so-called “paper of record” that he plans to hang a banner inside the store announcing that the tent will be dismantled imminently.
For the last 10 years, the business has been owned and run by Mr. Leroy, a tall, Barnumesque figure who grew up in Paris and Manhattan with a taste for oddities and antiques. Along with that came an appreciation for the sort of grit and gaudy charm that used to define the Bowery before going the way of the flophouse and the cheap saloon.
He said his landlord planned to start construction on a two-story brick building there in late winter.
Mr. Leroy said he would reopen the store, Billy’s Antiques and Props, in a part of the new building, with the trusty tent playing the part of symbolic burial shroud: wrapped up, stuffed in an Italian cherry-wood coffin and interred beneath the foundation of the new structure.
Later this month, he said, [landlord] Mr. [Tony] Goldman and one of the film’s directors, Jenner Furst, will help him organize a weeklong wake for the tent that will include poetry readings and concerts. While he is waiting for the new building to be finished, Mr. Leroy said, he will appear in a pilot for the Travel Channel that features people who attend auctions around the world.
There goes the neighborhood; there goes the Bowery. More of the charm and character headed out the window. Our Lower East Side continues to vanish.