Published: December 7, 2021
HOLLOWVILLE, N.Y. – Vincent R. Mulford of Hollowville, N.Y., passed away October 25, 2021 at the age of 72. Vince was born February 2, 1949, in Albany, N.Y. He graduated from Columbia High School, East Greenbush, N.Y., and earned his bachelor’s degree in zoology and biology from Butler University. He was the son of the late Ralph V. Mulford and Emilienne Lemaire Mulford, brother of Ralena-Kay Crandall and Cynthia Mulford, uncle of Stacey Padgett, Renee Bautista and Kristina Gross, and great uncle of Lily Bautista.
Vincent Mulford lived a rich and fulfilling life, never afraid to dip his toe into waters unknown. He will be dearly missed by many, family and friends alike. He had a commanding presence – his quick wit and infectious laugh would fill a room, and his sharp mind and artistic eye were inspirational to many. His life was driven by his own visionary need to create, and he let nothing stand in the way.
Mulford bought a small post-World War I home in Malden Bridge in the late 1970s. It had been disassembled from a Virginia army base, reassembled in upstate N.Y., and had served as a tenant house when he purchased it. He spent the next 15 years studying and experimenting with early architecture, creating English gardens framed with espaliered trees and statuary pieces, developing an artistic gift and vision that would pave the way to his unique style and love of early architecture – especially anything Dutch – that he would become known for over the years.
His eye eventually led him to open an antiques shop in Malden Bridge.
Sarah Lipsky and her husband Timothy Doyle first met Mulford while doing shows in the 1980s.
“In the 1980s, he brought a different style to the shows and his shop,” Doyle said. “He liked old painted surfaces and large-scale things. He could mix that. At a show, he would have a wonderful oval table in old blue paint, and on top of it a highly polished sterling silver punch bowl. Early on he had this idea of taking something rustic and putting something highly finished on it. That separated him out.”
In the late 1980s, he moved into a new shop on Warren Street in Hudson, where he fell in love with the town’s historic architecture.
“Hudson was very, very different back then,” Lipsky said. “You wouldn’t recognize it from the way it looks today. There were lots of vacant buildings and a handful of dealers there. We were all drawn to the architecture, to the beautiful buildings and the proximity to the city and low rent.”
When the space next to Vincent became available, Lipsky and her husband moved in with Doyle Antiques.
“He was a lot of fun, we had a lot of good times with him in our shops and shows,” she said. “He was very serious and organized about his business, but he also had an incredibly fun side to him.”
Mulford eventually moved down the street to a Nineteenth Century building, where he would install his shop with residence above. The building had been used for New York state administrative offices with cubicles, drop ceilings and fluorescent lighting. Mulford stripped it back to its original state, discovering an intact tin ballroom on the second floor, which he illuminated with mirrored candle sconces.
Mulford’s shop, Vincent Mulford Antiques, became a destination for architectural antiques, those large and powerful objects that empowered designers in their creations of unique spaces. Doyle said Mulford was an influencer before the term became popular, coining a “wabi sabi look.” He was featured in a number of publications, including the New York Times, Architectural Digest and Elle Décor.
“He was very distinctive,” Lipsky said, “Intrigued with history, form and shape. He had a very distinct aesthetic with no one style.”
Throughout his career, Mulford bought and renovated a number of small, historic cottages in New York and Vermont – many of them only 1,000 square feet.
Though his building at 419 Warren Street sold last year, a tribute to Mulford and his unique window dressings is currently on view at the property.
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