Inside a collector’s house

For collector Eric Cohen, his home expresses a lifelong pursuit writ large

December 21, 2015

By Jenni Elliott / Photo: Tracey Ayton

Eric Cohen was just 16 years old and working for a demolition business when he bought his first artifact—he wanted to save a door, so the only logical thing to do was buy it. Standing now in his 1921 west side heritage home, you can see how his eye for history’s gems carried on briskly from there. From rich wood panelling to antique brass chandeliers with stained- glass shades, a lifetime’s worth of heirlooms lies inside this historic house. Each item would ordinarily have you backing away for fear of an inadvertent nudge, but both Eric and wife Judy Cohen are only too happy to share their passion for these treasures: it’s entirely acceptable to rub your cheek on an art glass vase to feel its cool temperature—even if it’s valued at $20,000.

Cohen’s attachment to each piece is obvious, which typically wouldn’t make for the best salesmanship. But he is the owner of Renew Gallery, which specializes in turn-of-the-century lighting and fine antiques—so his finds are always destined for his decades-old shop. However, he admits, there is one item that ended its journey at home: “That box over there is full of original letters from Teddy Roosevelt,” he says. “I like to read them over and over—paper ephemera is really my thing.”

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