Skilled Craftsmen at Work: Our Renovation Upholsterer

An Ageless Manor Mainstay Carrying On A Lost Art

Gerd Dagne, The Manor's renovation upholster, being assisted by his wife Christa.

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.

When The Manor neared completion of its most recent series of extensive renovations, although the amenities had been modernized, the owners and renovation team knew that they wanted to include elements of the interior design that would still tie the venue to an aesthetic of old-world elegance and finery. A natural choice for production of several elements of the decor was Mr. Dagne. The long-valued relationship and his ability to create couture pieces, which are by definition one-of-a-kind that would not be seen anywhere but at The Manor, made for an ideal collaboration.

Gerd Dagne, The Manor's renovation upholster, reviewing fabric selections with Project Manager Keri Knowles.

From the new foyer and lobby to the new bridal suites, Mr. Dagne consulted on choices for the many window treatments and custom-made each piece of drapery to suit each space. Far from a catalog purchase, he transformed bolts of fine, elaborately embellished fabric into beautiful window dressings replete with details that complimented The Manor’s grand décor. Many hours of measuring, selecting, cutting, sewing, matching, and sculpting the pieces into form were invested in each.

An up-close look at the finished product of the fabric used in the prior image. Upholsterer Gerd Dagne utlitized Project Manager & Designer Keri Knowles' fabric and embellishment selections to create fanciful and elegant drapery that now hangs in The Manor's Regency Bridal Suite.  

But even beyond the extensive drapery work, The Manor also commissioned Mr. Dagne to apply his trade and facility with fabrics to the wall coverings of The Manor’s new upper lobby and Garden Room. Rather than simply painting or papering the fresh new walls, the design team wanted something more—something that would further refine the bright, open spaces and add a more embellished, warm, and regal feeling. Simplicity in the face of cost, time, and effort was not a consideration. With the added acoustical benefit of sound absorption without sacrifice to aesthetics, paneling the walls in fabric was the inspired solution.

Again, Mr. Dagne would invest hours preparing, padding, and fitting fine fabric to the walls to create the inviting effect. With the unique properties of fabric, to ensure its lasting use as a wall covering required an experienced hand and knowledge of how the material behaves. Step-by-step he methodically and meticulously set every piece in place to create a finished look that is nothing short of impressive when seen as a whole. The owners of The Manor have learned through over a half-century in operation that quality endures, and the level of workmanship shows in the finished product. This has certainly been proven true for Mr. Dange’s work as well.

Labor intensive detail work, creating pleated edges on the fabric-paneled walls of The Manor's upper lobby. 

But for Mr. Dagne, it was not a talent learned overnight. He too has over a half-century of experience—his with shears in hand and a sewing machine at his side. Mr. Dagne came to his craft at an early age, honing his skills by apprenticing in Germany where the age-old craft was a valued trade. It was only the destructive events of World War II that brought Mr. Dagne and his European decorating style to America. Here, he soon refined his craft and built a niche for his trade amongst those who appreciated the artistry of his hand-crafted designs. Though well past the age of retirement, his passion for his work keeps him vital and productive, and the dearth of anyone skilled enough in his techniques to take his place has kept him in demand. His is a style of craftsmanship that The Manor embodies and a talent that it is pleased to support.

An up-close look at the finished fabric paneled walls of The Manor's upper lobby, which complements the detailed millwork as well as the iron and brass metalwork which themselves were the craftwork of other skilled artisans.


Also read about some of the other talented artisans whose craftsmanship has been integral to The Manor's authentic design. 

Aliya Riaz
Decorative Painter

Patricio Guzman
In-House Upholsterer

Hans Breuckl
Coppersmith


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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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.  
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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
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.