By Jim Duffy
When we decided to move from South Florida to Charlotte in 2010, one of the most exciting aspects of designing a new home was the prospect of having a basement. Years earlier we had toyed with the idea of someday designing a super-basement. So once the move was finalized, the ideas started flowing. The wish list of activities and play spaces continued to grow, and soon evolved into a “street concept” where each space would occupy its own storefront on a street. We sketched out a 4,000-square-foot layout then had our architect design the rest of our house around the footprint of the future basement.
In October of 2015, Holevas and Holton, of Charlotte, N.C., began constructing what would become “The Bronx Street.” It is a melting pot of memories, interests, and favorite hang-outs. Many of the spaces are based on actual stores from the neighborhood in the north Bronx where I grew up. The 12-foot high ceilings allowed us to design realistically-scaled storefronts. The street is covered with a blanket of stars from a 52-foot ling fiber-optic starfield, complete with shooting stars. The stores are constructed from actual brick, stone, and wood. All design, decorating, and specialized paint work was done by the Duffy family.
The Egyptian Theater:
A large-size 4K home theater patterned after Grauman’s Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. Includes a small lobby area with Egyptian decor. The 12-seat theater features Egyptian decor and two large golden statues of Egyptian gods. Stone front.
Design and installation by The Integrated Home, Charlotte, N.C.
Lobby Size: 8’ X 10’ X 12’ high
Theater Size: 19’ X 20’ X 12’ high
Systems: Control4 control system, Sony video projector, 140-inch Screen Innovations screen, Integra 9.2 Atmos receiver, Episode speakers and subwoofers
Sam’s Soda Shop:
A classic retro ‘50s/’60s soda shop with full working kitchen, soda fountain counter, magazine/comic area, and small tables. Brick front.
Size: 18’ X 17’ X 12’ high
The Cavern Club Pub:
A British-style pub and music room patterned after the famous Cavern Club in Liverpool, England. Includes a drum stage and band area, two pub tables, large antique bar, pool table, shuffleboard table, and darts area. Brick front.
Size: 25’ X 44’ X 12’ high
A turn-of-the-century, Coney Island-style penny arcade featuring a vintage Americana theme. Includes two pinball games, colorful carousel horse, and a working mechanical shooting gallery. Clapboard wood front.
Size: 16’ X 26’ X 12’ high
McDougal’s House of Horrors:
Patterned after a vintage wax museum/chamber of horrors, it features life-size figures of classic monsters (all created by our son, Greg) and a small gift shop area of vintage masks and costumes. Brownstone front.
Size: 12’ X 27’ X 12’ high
The Apartment Foyer:
A tight foyer reminiscent of a small New York apartment house entrance. Includes a working elevator, frosted-glass office door, and period apartment-style mailbox panel. White limestone front. Size: 7’ X 7’ X 12’ high
Tony’s Cafe’ at the Bronx Italian-American Club
A covered outdoor cafe’ setting with tables and chairs, menu board, and wall decor.
Size: 20’ X 13’ X 12’ high
FRONTS ONLY/NO INTERIORS:
The Toy Shop:
A facade based on my favorite toy store in the mid-‘60s. The display windows feature our collection of 1960s antique toys. Wood front.
Size: 16’ long X 12’ foot high
The Grocery Store:
A facade of a typical Mom & Pop grocery store, based on my great-uncle’s Bronx store. Includes two fruit & vegetable stands and soda bottle cases. Brick front.
Size: 16’ long X 12’ foot high
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