The Planning Process -- Preparing for Renovations

PHOTOS COURTESY OF KERI KNOWLES

Before any structures could be erected, any stone could be laid, or any walls adorned, the painstaking and complex task of planning The Manor’s renovation first had to be defined. There may never have been a doubt that The Manor would continue to evolve and offer new amenities (as it had over the course of its almost 60 years prior), but deciding on the timing and scale of the project required a great deal of consideration, forethought, and scheduling. Committing to a multi-year, multi-million dollar project and setting the plans into motion was no small task.

The Knowles family, whose experience in construction and design has been hard-earned through the growth of The Manor as well as extensive renovation projects at their other properties, which are no-less grand in scale and required similar deference to the historical nature of the structures. The revitalization of what is now Highlawn Pavilion from a mere shell of a building, the re-imagining of the historic Pleasantdale Chateau estate, and perpetuation of the colonial charm of Ram’s Head Inn all offered their own unique challenges. Adding to their experience was the Knowles family’s ground-up construction of The Manor’s neighboring hotel, the Marriott Residence Inn West Orange at The Manor.

This new renovation venture assembled the varying talents and know-how spanning generations of the family, from The Manor’s founder Harry Knowles to his grandchildren Keri Knowles and Kurt Knowles, Jr.  The breadth and scope of The Manor’s renovation project called upon the input and influence of each of those involved to contribute their own distinctive perspectives to maintain what has always been the classic, refined and authentic appeal of the venue, while improving upon its designs and fulfilling the needs of the modern guest.

The family also carefully hand-picked and assembled a team of architects, engineers and designers to leverage their input and expertise in ensuring the successful planning and execution of what the Knowles envisioned as essential to the renovations. 

The Knowles family have long-planned for an opportunity to put in place many of the changes that are now in effect.  Countless discussions lead to the concept of brightening and opening up the foyer to create a grand, two-story reveal. Realizing the potential of The Manor’s rooftop also led to their development of plans for a more exquisite, expanded banquet space that would overlook the majestic waterfall.  More savvy floor plan configurations as well as integrating new technologies and amenities that would improve the customer experience and the staff’s ability to provide better, more efficient service were also at the top of the family’s to-do list. The work of moving from concept to implementation however required significant planning, a complete understanding of the existing structure, and extensive engineering analyses.

Working within the scope of a historic building whose architecture is as unique and as varied as the decades that have witnessed changes to it, created a specific set of requirements that the Knowles family had to surmount.

A great deal of investment and much of the hard work undertaken to enhance The Manor will never be seen nor experienced by its guests, and yet they were vital to making all of our public spaces as grand as they are today.  Projects such as retrofitting and installing structural support columns, beams and trusses, while working within and around the confines of existing spaces, enabled new construction on The Manor’s rooftop to support a more expansive design of the new banquet spaces. Roof levels were raised, floors were removed, elevator shafts were installed, and much more, all within the footprint of the existing Manor structure.

Once the structural possibilities were established, then the family could apply their proficiency in design to begin the research and groundwork that would cover every square inch of the renovated spaces. Innumerable design decisions had to be made, from floor to ceiling. Identifying available products and sourcing items was a behemoth task in and of itself.  For each of the spaces, decisions needed to be made, from stone for the flooring to trim and treatments for the walls and ceilings, decorative elements and finishing flourishes, furnishings and fixtures, hardware and wall coverings, colors, textures, patterns, and on and on—all which would have to result in a cohesive feel and flow that would make guests feel at home in our manor house, while still being sturdy enough to remain beautiful through all the traffic of years worth of guests and parties.

It may have been difficult to conceptualize early-on in the process, but now as the majority of the renovation phases have been successfully completed, the significance of the changes, the resulting visual and functional appeal, and the overwhelmingly positive feedback from guests have proven to be well-worth the effort. The results of extensive planning, the sizable expenditures, and the meticulous workmanship required to refresh the look and appeal of The Manor and bring it to a new level of refinement and splendor are already demonstrating that we will continue to be a sought-after destination for celebrating life’s most important events well into the future.

(Pictured above: Members of the Knowles family looking over architectural drawings for renovation construction. From L to R: Kurt Knowles, Jr. Wade Knowles, Kurt Knowles, Harry Knowles.)


A Brief Overview of Our Renovations
Recently, The Manor has embarked on a new era of growth and change, undertaking an extensive multi-year, multi-phase revitalization project. Continuing to build upon our success, this multi-million dollar endeavor has included an array of upgrades, renovations, and changes to the physical structure of the building. As many of our guests have already experienced, the early phases of this ambitious initiative included a completely new foyer and lobby, enlarging and redesigning the aesthetics and physical structure of these spaces, making them more airy, open and welcoming. 
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Making a Grand Entrance
One of the ambitious redesign goals of The Manor’s renovation project was to create an entirely new, more welcoming, airy, and grand first impression for guests walking through our doors. Part of that plan included significantly opening up our lobby. An by opening up, that meant going up—removing a large part of the floor of the second story above the lobby to create a two-story view. Doing so required the removal of not just one ceiling, but two. Read More >>


Selecting and Installing our Chandelier
To fill the lofty area created by the opening up of the lobby to two full floors, the Knowles family and The Manor's renovation team looked for a focal piece worthy of the grand scale of the room. They concentrated their attention on finding a central design element that would be large enough in size to match the scale of the space, but light and airy enough to complement the fresh, lively new aesthetic of the lobby.  Read More >>


Uncovering and Restoring a Hidden Gem
The Manor’s renovation crew uncovered the original arched windows, still in tact and in place inside the walls. Inspired by this discovery of The Manor’s past, the Knowles family, known for their appreciation of history and tradition, along with their architects and design team, worked to find a way to incorporate these relics into the new aesthetic. Read More >>


The Creation of an All-New Ladies' Lounge
Not to leave any aspect of our guests’ experience unattended to, the Knowles family incorporated plans for an entirely new ladies lounge. Built on the first floor in the heart of our historic building, the new accommodations now offer a more centralized and easily accessible location.  Read More >>


The Creation of an All-New Men's Lounge
Just below The Manor’s lobby on the lower level, is our newly-constructed men’s lounge. With rigid, rich wood elements, substantive leather seating, two high-definition television screens, and an array of other more masculine elements, this Manor man cave is another unique room newly-built from the ground-up for our guests’ enjoyment.  Read More >>


Installation of a New Elevator
In order to provide a more convenient and centralized means for our guests to travel from floor to floor in The Manor’s sprawling mansion, the Knowles family incorporated into the renovation project, plans to create a new elevator system. Making this possible would be no small feat and come at no small cost. Building a modern service with very technical requirements around the bones of a historic building proved to be a major engineering challenge.  Read More >>


Showcasing The Manor's Storied Past
Now hanging in The Manor, along the reconfigured walls of the former Carolina Room, is a gallery of images that reflects upon the long and storied history of our restaurant and event venue. Set on richly-adorned, earth-toned damask-patterned walls, the photos, now framed and engraved, mark special moments in time. The images are but a small sampling of the events across the years that we’ve hosted and the people with whom we’ve enjoyed them. Read More >>


A More Welcoming Vestibule
In their renovation planning, the Knowles family’s mission was to not only refresh, brighten and revitalize the look and feel of The Manor, but to also find ways of further improving the appeal of the public spaces to make them more welcoming and comfortable for our guests. Some of these improvements have been realized even with the first step through our doors.  Read More >>


Enhancing The Manor's Grand Facade
Along with extensive renovations to The Manor’s many interior spaces, so too came updates and upgrades to the building’s exterior. The multi-million dollar project included plans to extend the eastern portion of the second floor façade to add more symmetry to the front of the building, without growing the overall footprint of The Manor or impacting the beauty and size of surrounding grounds.  
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The Garden Room - A Reimagined Banquet Space
Recognizing the importance of offering an entirely private and separate reception space apart from our other event rooms for wedding couples, corporate events and social gatherings, the Knowles family, owners of The Manor, established plans to completely gut, enlarge, and modernize our second floor. With designs for a new restroom, bridal suite, service areas, pre-function space, and banquet room, The Manor set in play the creation an entirely self-sufficient and self-contained party space. Our brides would now have a complete, thoroughly- and thoughtfully-designed exclusive rooftop space for their receptions.  Read More >>


The New Garden Room Bridal Suite
As part of The Manor’s newly constructed rooftop ballroom, we’ve designed a special space just for the bride. Our Garden Room Bridal Suite offers a cozy private sanctuary to escape and prepare for the events of the day. With a private restroom, easy elevator access and located directly adjacent to the event space, the Garden Room Bridal Suite provides for all of the newlywed’s needs. Our design team, led by Keri Knowles, carefully selected bold patterns, rich fabrics, and regal colors that would create a luxe look and feel that every bride deserves on her special day.  
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Our Enchanting New Rotunda Bridal Suite
As yet another entirely unique, authentic space at The Manor, our newly revamped Rotunda Bridal Suite now offers our brides a lush, romantic getaway to prepare for their special day. This space has been re-imagined from a public ladies’ lounge to serve as a private suite exclusively for our bride and her bridal party.  Read More >>


Versailles Bridal Suite I - A Touch of Aristocratic Enchantment
The awe-inspiring reinvention of this additional all-new bridal suite successfully elevates The Manor’s already unique environment. From the color palette to the architectural style, to the design choices and lux furnishings, the room provokes a vibrant, fresh and breathtaking feeling. The aesthetic pays significant homage to The Palace of Versailles, Louis XVI design, and the French baroque style.  Read More >>


Versailles Suite II - Combining Classic French Grandeur with Modern Amenities
With ornate designs and luxurious details reminiscent of Versailles, our newest of The Manor’s grand bridal salons offers our bride her own private retreat to feel pampered in extravagance as she prepares for her special day. From a full-length three-way mirror to a an adjoining salon space with three glamour stations that feature large vanity mirrors surrounded by Hollywood lighting, this suite provides for a bride's every need. Read More >>


Our Charming New Regency Bridal Suite
This cozy new bridal suite was recently fully redesigned and redecorated for our Manor brides. Specifically for the use of our bride hosting her wedding reception in The Manor’s Regency Room, the suite offers easy access to the adjacent ballroom.  Read More >>


Following a Long Tradition of Master Craftsmen
The Manor has enjoyed over a half-century history of fostering a holistic approach to its business, to keep as much of what defines us within our own family of operations. A vital part of sustaining that ethic is our tradition of supporting the work of true artisans and incorporating their talents into all that we do.  This may make us a larger business to manage, and a more costly one to operate, but we believe that it also improves the quality and authenticity of the experience we can provide to our guests.  Read More >>


Skilled Craftsmen at Work: Our Decorative Painter
Aliya Riaz, the creative force behind the award-winning decorative art and design firm Portfauxlio, Inc. was tasked with leveraging her talents across a wide range of projects throughout the recent renovations. Whether it was decorative painting, gilding, glazing, applying specialty finishes, or unique plaster work, her contributions helped to successfully revitalize antique pieces, blend new construction with old, and further enhance the grand aesthetic of The Manor while maintaining its authentic charm and hand-crafted appeal.  Read More >>


Skilled Craftsmen at Work: Our In-House Upholsterer
For decades at The Manor, one man has been responsible for a very specific element of the venue’s décor. Gerd Dagne, an upholsterer trained in the art of design with fabrics, has sewn, assembled, installed, and maintained practically every piece of ornate drapery hung at The Manor and its sister properties for more than 30 years. His talents in this cut & sew craft have stood the test of time, while many others in the profession have not. In an age where labor-intensive craftsmanship has become too costly and attention to hand-made detail is less appreciated, only those with a reputation for quality and skill have flourished.  Read More >>


Skilled Craftsmen at Work: Our In-House Upholsterer
More like family by now than employee, Patricio Guzman has been keeping The Manor’s appurtenances well-covered in fine fabrics for decades. If you’ve ever sat in a chair at The Manor, then you’ve experienced his handiwork. Whether in The Dome or the dining room, a banquet chair or a baroque settee, Mr. Guzman has upholstered it.  Read More >>


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www.themanorrestaurant.com/newatthemanorOver the first 30 years of business since our opening on New Year’s Eve in...

Posted by The Manor on Monday, July 6, 2015

The Manor has undertaken an extensive multi-year, multi-phase revitalization project.

Continuing to build upon our success, this multi-million dollar endeavor has included an array of upgrades, renovations, and changes to the physical structure of the building.

Many of these improvements are already in place, while others are soon to be ready for our guests' enjoyment.


Our All-New Garden Room is Now Open for Wedding Receptions, Social Banquets, Corporate Events, and Other Private Parties.

This Unique Two-Room Event & Celebration Space Includes a Ballroom that can Accommodate up to 80 Guests.

Click Here to Contact Us for Room Details and Booking Information.