One autumn evening in 1907, the switchboards of the Hudson River Telephone Company lit up for the very first time at the Telephone Building located at 291 Main Street, Beacon, NY. The handsome new building employed the latest technology. Since then, the building has had different owners and purposes, been featured in a movie, and beginning in 2003, been restored inside and out by Deborah Bigelow, the building's current and longtime owner. The lights shine again on original architecture uncovered and preserved by this master craftsman. See more of her professional work for her gilding and art conservation company at Gilded Twig.
Beacon's original Telephone Building at 291 Main Street is home to tenants who run businesses and are making a difference in the Hudson Valley and all over the world. Today, where rows of operators once staffed state-of-the-art electric switchboards, the Telephone Building's twenty-first century tenants infuse the building with their business energy as well as support for each other and the local community.
Being located in a historic building in the center of the entrepreneurial and vibrant city of Beacon is creatively inspiring. Tenants and their guests come and go daily, benefiting from the synergistic atmosphere that Deborah has cultivated among her building community.
Art Conservator, Deborah Bigelow, has been transforming works of art and architecture with superior technical artistry for decades.
Her first project as a Conservation Technician for the New York State Bureau of Historic Sites was preserving a life-size 18th-century French carved and gilded eagle that Robert Livingston, the first US ambassador to France, brought back from Paris.
Deborah won a Rotary International Technical Training Award to study at the London College of Furniture in 1980. She spent an internship at the Victoria & Albert Museum learning from their gilding conservator, Malcolm Green, and wrote a dissertation on gilding. After her intensive work there, she organized the Gilding Conservation Symposium in 1988 and published the papers in 1991. Gilded Wood: Conservation and History remains a valued text throughout the industry.
Returning to New York in 1982, Deborah Bigelow Associates began conserving gilded antiques for Berry B. Tracy, curator-in-charge of the American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Over the next two decades work expanded to other art museums and private art collections in the United States. Passionate about gilding conservation, she created a resume full of object treatments, lecturing and teaching at the Smithsonian among other institutions, and spearheading the conference and publication, Gilded Wood.
In the 1990's, Deborah joined forces with Bill Gauthier to take on more challenging art conservation treatments and creative gilding projects. Through 2005, their business, American Burnish, restored rare antiques, gilded three site-specific art installations for world renowned artist, Walter De Maria and designed and produced original gilded glass for commercial projects from Florida to South Korea.
The studio for American Burnish was located in Deborah’s Telephone Building. American Burnish ended its life-cycle, and Deborah’s current business, Gilded Twig, is still housed in The Telephone Building. Restoring The Telephone Building was one of Deborah’s main projects until just this year when she finished restoring the cornice around the top of the building.