Recap: Funeral Procession for Billy’s Antiques on the Bowery

Posted on: March 11th, 2012 at 8:22 am by

Yesterday afternoon was the official sendoff for Billy’s Antiques after more than two decades at 76 East Houston.  Real or symbolic, it was no doubt a funeral for the Bowery in every sense of the word. There was a modest gathering of bereaved in the remaining shell of a tent; former employees eulogized about their experiences; and pallbearers carried the coffin.

The spectacle began shortly after 3 pm, when a couple dozen folks (mainly press) arrived at the stripped corner lot. No more big-top tent, just the skeleton.  Speeches by Billy Leroy and his longtime cohorts (“sad to see the space in this way”), as well as somber song from wife Lorraine Leckie, were followed by the conspicuous procession. A prepared wooden coffin was stuffed with what remained of the tarps, and nailed shut. With a soundtrack of tambourine and guitar strumming, a group of pallbearers carried the Bowery remains in a circular route up the Bowery across Bleecker, and down Elizabeth. As expected, dumbfounded pedestrians gawked in confusion.

And this Ferrari parked on the Bowery just says it all…

Upon return to the tent, there were more speeches about the good old days, and pointed commentary toward Pulino’s and Rag & Bone(r) across the way. Billy then proceeded to tear down his wall of press clippings, narrating the tale behind each one. The event was capped with burning sage, a bottle of vodka, and a pair of scissors to cut the tarp into souvenirs (and autographs). Oh, and the three seaman that showed up…

On our way out, we learned that the tent frame will soon be painted bright red, and the coffin placed behind the gate.  It’ll allegedly remain this way for two months before construction starts on a new building. Whether Billy returns is still an unknown.  It’s a sad day for the Lower East Side.

Gallery:

Recent Stories

43essex
Residents of 43 Essex Street Still Without Cooking Gas; DOB Issues Separate Stop-work Orders

More drama over at 43 Essex Street, where the stripped store remains barren. Activity revived last week with more shuffling about the premises; it appeared that build-out was back on track. Not so fast, though. The city quickly stepped in and shut it all down. The Department of Buildings sent an inspector last week, which […]

The Essex Market in 1969, Photo: Susan Fensten, Robert M. Cunningham Collection
Shopping the Essex Street Market in 1969 [PHOTOS]

This month marks the 76th anniversary of the Essex Street Market. With three years left until the collection of warehouse buildings is cleared for the opulence of Essex Crossing, it’s important to remember the history being left behind. These one-story brick structures were built by order of Mayor LaGuardia in 1940, with the purpose of […]

102allen-facade
USA Shaolin Temple Moving to 102 Allen Street

Photographer Alex Cao departed the second-floor loft at 102 Allen Street not too long ago. The studio had been a mainstay for over a decade, with images of pop-art framed in each of the windows. It’s all gone now, replaced with brown paper. The replacement is from left field. Here comes the twenty-two-year-old USA Shaolin […]

chrystie-street-demolition-3
2 Chrystie Street Buildings Amdist Demolition for Separate 10-Story Luxury Condos

Two Chrystie Street warehouse buildings are on the way out. Demolition is underway at both in order to usher in a new era of ODA-designed luxury. First up is 165 Chrystie Street, a stout brick box that hasn’t functioned in years. A restaurant supply company previously operated in the base, but not since moving across […]

rivington-house
Pols Line up Behind Legislation Aimed at Preventing Another Rivington House

As the Rivington House scandal continues to snowball and affect Mayor de Blasio’s footing, local politicians are now lining up to prevent the next such boondoggle from happening. Councilwoman Margaret Chin, alongside Borough President Gale Brewer, introduced new legislation yesterday that would reform the city’s practices concerning deed restrictions. The process – namely, a deed […]

  • It will feel weird to walk by Billy’s and not see that iconic tent. I bought a ton of stuff in here over the years.

    Bummed! 

  • Sorry I missed this, thanks for a great recap of the funeral. And yes, sadly that Ferrari says it all! Billy’s will be missed, another one down.

  • Whatevs

    It was overpriced.  Move on.  Adapt or die.

    • CatherineNYCB

      Are you the owner of the Ferrari?