The Post Road Welcomes RH Greenwich
Originally built in 1917, Greenwich’s downtown post office has been resurrected as RH’s (née Restoration Hardware) newest location. Opening this month, RH Greenwich: The Gallery at the Historic Post Office follows the success of the transformation of Boston’s Museum of Natural History into the retailer’s 40,000-square-foot design gallery. Continuing its collaboration with architect James Gillam, of Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects, RH has brought the landmark post office into the 21st century while honoring its historical integrity. The Neoclassical building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been preserved, restored and reimagined as a retail space that will serve as an architectural canvas for the debut of the RH 2014 collections. CTC&G talked with RH Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gary Friedman about Greenwich Avenue’s newest shopping destination.
CTC&G: What was appealing about the post office as a retail location?
Gary Friedman: I was in Greenwich visiting the [former] store location, took a walk down the street and took photographs of the post office to capture its elements, details and design to share with our architecture team. Our ethos stems from great architecture, and the details were inspiring. It was about six months after I took the pictures that it went up for sale. I immediately went back to Greenwich—it was purely coincidental.
How do you see a grander RH fitting into the current Greenwich landscape?
One of our most successful stores is in Greenwich, but it is woefully undersized. The display is only 5 to 10 percent of our current collection. The new gallery will have more big collection displays and will be a better representation of the brand.
How does the physical re-imagining of a historic building reflect RH’s mission?
We are students of great design and great architecture. It’s part of our culture. What we try to do is respect the original vision of the architecture and original intent of the building and enhance it for today. It elevates our game through the process. For us, it’s part of our DNA. We love to learn and grow and become better at what we do. Great projects like this one do that for us.
Will the product offering here have any distinct differences from other locations?
It’s what we call a full-on design gallery. It will have a wider range of product offerings and, because of the architectural elements of the building, it allows us to really do some creative and artistic abstractions with the furniture and furnishings.
Why call it a “gallery” as opposed to store?
We like to say we don’t have stores, we have galleries. We try to inspire and help people imagine how things might be presented in a typical home. The ability to take a space that has amazing proportions and do what we say are artistic abstractions, it pushes your imagination beyond how you might think things should look. We want to show people imaginative ways of designing their homes.
Do you expect a new crowd of shoppers here?
We hope it inspires more people to think about new and different ways to live and design. In many cases like this, we refer to it as our Field of Dreams: If we build it, they will come. There is no math that says we need a bigger store in Greenwich but, when you have creative courage to lead rather than follow, many times, good things happen.
A version of this article appeared in the June 2014 issue of Connecticut Cottages & Gardens with the headline: Letter Perfect.