Chamblin’s Uptown: The Steel Vault Biography Room

by Tim Gilmore, 9/24/2015

cont’d from Brooklyn: Chamblin Bookmine, Part 5

I love the way life and history and the movement of cities and lives across the history of a city rearrange the spaces within a building. So I love doors that open into walls and turn beneath stairs that enter long-ago boarding-room kitchens.

And so I love the Biography Room at Chamblin’s Uptown next door to the Gus Building. Sometime decades back, when news broadcasts began with blowhard trumpet fanfares and TV shows couldn’t depict the possibility that a married couple might share the same bed, the Chamblin’s Uptown building was home to a shoe store and a haberdashery and a jewelry store.

So when Ron bought the building and began to renovate it in 2006, he discovered the sealed-in walk-in steel vault at the back. He uncovered it and converted it into bookspace. You can hear the difference when you step into the Biography Room and speak a single and very quiet word.

And if you think about it as you stand there, you’ll suspect you’d be safe from a nuclear apocalypse. You wouldn’t know, of course, that the bed where Ron Chamblin slept for years is situated directly above your head in the apartment he built for himself behind the store.

cont’d Chamblin’s Uptown: Gus and Company Building