Keri Knowles, Our Renovation's Project Manager

Bridging The Gap Between Ownership And Construction Trades

Keri KnowlesAmong the key team members at The Manor integral to the planning and implementation of our multi-million dollar renovation project is Keri Knowles. As a business with nearly 60 years of history being owned and operated by a single family, Keri earned her way into a position that carries with it a great deal of demands, expectations and a long tradition of accomplishment.

After managing a successful series of projects including bringing a nightlife and entertainment program to The Dome, The Manor's after-hours bar and lounge, Keri switched her focus to begin stepping forward to extend her unique perspective to the planning and conceptualization phase of an entirely new era of change and evolution at The Manor.

Over the decades since its beginnings, The Manor has regularly undergone expansions and updates to meet the needs of new generations of guests. This latest renovation project was in many aspects more demanding, intricate, and complex than any before.

Through Keri's involvement, she was able to leverage and apply her specific talents that would prove invaluable to the success of the complex demands of the renovations for which functionality and aesthetics were mutually vital.

A number of these abilities included the creative, collaborative, and project management skills developed in her international academic work at the notable Aalto University's School of Art, Design and Architecture based in Helsinki Finland, one of the renowned design capitals of the world. She also brought to bear experience from her earlier studies at the University of the Arts, one of the United States' oldest institutions dedicated solely to the arts--a focus that would prove invaluable when attempting to merge the classical aesthetics of The Manor with a mission to introduce modern amenities.

As granddaughter of The Manor's founders, Keri has benefitted from a lifetime of experience having seen the business operate first-hand--earning a "life experience" business degree from a well-revered name in the restaurant and hospitality industry--her own grandfather.

Even the experiences that could not have seemed valuable at the time would prove themselves useful when considering improvements and working out problematic changes within the framework of a historic building. Walking the halls and exploring the back rooms of The Manor from childhood lends a true sense of every crack and crevice of the place. This not only provided a deeply ingrained mental map of the structure, but also engendered a greater understanding and appreciation for the building and the myriad aspects of its functionality. 

Having traveled the globe absorbing the best of art and architecture, she is well-versed and well-suited to introduce the best the world has to offer, applying and reinterpreting that cache of experience at The Manor--a concept that doesn't stray far from those early days when her grandparents took inspiration for the look and feel of the elements that earned The Manor its initial broad appeal, gained from their own travels so many decades ago.

Though she has influenced many aspects of the design in the renewed spaces at The Manor, even going as far as custom designing furnishings from her own sketches when a space required a unique focal piece, her value to the renovations run far deeper. As a project manager, Keri oversaw all aspects of the coordination, scheduling and execution of tasks for all contractors and tradesmen whose combined work was needed to accomplish the wide-scale changes. From negotiating with vendors, ordering and securing the delivery of everything from sconces to seating, and so much more, she ensured that every detail was administered.

Keri, along with the rest of the design team, researched far and wide to gather inspiration, discover unique products, and source materials appropriate to each aspect of the project. From showrooms to stone mills, from furniture fabricators to fabric suppliers, her days were often filled with swatches, samples, and sell sheets.  Whether selecting materials or overseeing production, her hands-on style helped to keep the often unwieldy process on-track and under control. From keeping a sharp eye on the budgeting and expenses of the project to dedicating hours with the designers, architects and engineers, sifting through point-by-point each decision, change, and implementation, she worked to maintain a clear line of communication and project coordination.

The most recent series of projects Keri initiated was the complete redesign of The Manor’s bridal suites. Leading the project, she brought to bear a lifetime of experience and a year’s worth of planning on her own designs to develop The Manor’s suites. She combined her knowledge of the functional needs of brides (particularly the thousands of those who have celebrated with us at The Manor), her education in art and design, the practical knowledge gained in managing the extensive renovations at The Manor, and her personal experience having visited many of the grand palaces and museums of the world from which she drew her inspiration.

Through painstaking research of materials and design aesthetics, she conceived a cohesive design plan, while also accounting for seamlessly incorporating technical and mechanical requirements of lighting, audio, heating /cooling, and the like, despite the challenges a historic building presents.

With copious attention to detail and a truly hands-on investment of time into every last element, she guided her team to bring her concept to life. From paper sketches to finished project, she, for long stretches, invested over 14 hours a day, seven days of the week. Simultaneous wearing the hats of both designer and project manager, Keri rallied a skilled team of craftsmen, working alongside them, to bring the project in on time and ready for The Manor’s brides to enjoy.

Operating within the business, Keri has become a catalyst for change, bridging the gaps between the formula that has made The Manor so successful and the elements necessary to ensure its continued growth and appeal. Exhibited throughout the renovation project in particular, she established herself as an intermediary between the disparate needs of the business. Taking into account the pragmatic requirements of the engineers and the more aesthetic-oriented requests of the design team to develop solutions that achieve the best results for customer experience. She has helped to advance a unified design and foster a more fluid work process, enabling a swifter completion of the demanding renovation schedule.

While too humble to seek acknowledgement and always striving to sharpen her understanding of the diverse elements of her craft, it is clear that she exhibits the business acumen of her grandparents, while introducing her own nuanced approach to business operation and management. Keri is taking the best of the Knowles family's successes and applying her own collaborative philosophy to help advance the business in both aesthetics and approach.

Anyone who meets Keri, especially in the midst of her seeing a project through, will undoubtedly come to believe that it is a business that is as fully in her heart and mind as much as it is in her blood. Her grandfather, Harry Knowles, who has over six decades packed with business accomplishments behind him, has expressed his great pride in her being part of the business and being able to collaborate with her throughout the renovation process. But as he will tell you, it is a business that requires endless dedication, sacrifice and hard work. Commitment is vital to success. Even his frequent refrain to his children and grandchildren has consistently been "If you don't love it, don't do it." Keri is doing it. And doing it successfully. That perhaps more than anything speaks volumes about her commitment and the achievements she has made throughout the renovation process and beyond. 

The future vanguard of the business, grounded in tradition, but fed by a new enthusiasm and progressive outlook of another generation, savvy to the best of today's hospitality, culture, and design are already hard at work preparing for the continued legacy and success of The Manor, to create an environment for even greater experiences and lifelong memories for our guests.

Keri KnowlesAs a result of her work and accomplishments, Keri Knowles was also recently featured in North Jersey Woman magazine. To read the publication's interview and profile of her, click here.

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. 

The Planning Process - Preparing for Renovations
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.  

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.  

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.  

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 >>

< Back to Main Renovations Page

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.