Philadelphia Daily News, Auction & Antiques’ Section, November 8, 2002
By Steve Gary
For the Daily News
On the move: A vintage building supplies firm
Popularity of Center City renovations has both helped and hurt John Dorety’s company
Just as Dr. Frankenstein’s creation came back to haunt him, so, too, has John Dorety’s success.
Over the past 18 years, Dorety has renovated and refurbished Center City homes and restaurants using salvaged antique architectural artifacts.Now, as a new boom in Center City residential renovation is developing, Dorety must – for the fourth time in 18 years – move his antiques business to new quarters, not because he wants to, but because he has to.
“I’ve helped promote gentrification,” he opined, “and now it’s helping to move me out because the rents in Center City are just going through the roof.”
The massive space Dorety has been renting at 9th and South Streets since 1996 is in a building that has been sold, so he must vacate over the next couple months.He’ll move to an interim retail and storage facility at 500 E. Broadway in Clifton Heights.
“I’m thinking of buying this time, instead of renting,” Dorety said, acknowledging that finding adequate space for the antiques and large architectural artifacts he deals in won’t be easy.
Dorety has conducted his retail and custom contracting businesses for about 18 years at locations along South Street between 9th and 11th Streets.He’s built custom interiors for such popular dining destinations as Circa, Monk’s Café, Opus 251 and the Trocadero.
He had been doing some historic carpentry renovations on the University of Pennsylvania campus years ago when it occurred to him that the vintage materials he was told to throw into Dumpsters had the potential for new life in other settings.
He blended his carpentry skills with his appreciation for vintage building materials and began working in homes to create billiard rooms, libraries, wine cellars and bars.Buffets and dressers became kitchen islands and bathroom vanities.
“Today, in new construction as well as in renovated properties, many homeowners want furniture kitchens and bathrooms,” Dorety said.He also custom builds, manufactures and retrofits bars, mantels and architectural pieces such as stained and leaded glass, iron gates and fencing, doors, balusters (part of a banister), pilasters (column tops), columns, corbels (brackets), fragments, dividers and trim.He specializes in manufacturing ornamental plaster.
While Dorety’s absolute last day at his current location is still being negotiated with his landlord, he’s obviously looking to sell as much of his inventory as possible to lighten the load he’ll have to move.
This could mean significant savings for those interested in fireplace mantels, church pews, altars, columns, beams, shelves, cabinets, mirrors, oak paneling, banisters, cabinets, bookcases, iron fences, gates and grills, lighting and the like.
In describing the impending move Dorety, in his inimitable style of understated elegance said, “It’s like moving Rome five times, it’s tiring.”