Out of the fire
Burned down without insurance: Antiques Warehaus couple tries to pick up thepieces with benefit
The lives of 61-year-old Gordon Greenleaf and wife Tara Jordan-Greenleaf went up in flames in the early hours of Oct. 31 when their Westheimer furniture shop Antiques Warehaus burned to the ground as Halloween-costumed spectators watched.
But there's hope yet for the proprietors — with the aid of a few civic-minded friends and fans, a benefit for the family is being held Saturday from 6-9 p.m. at P.J.'s Sports Bar. Proceeds from the night will be channeled to the Greenleafs and Antique Warehaus. The night at the dive will feature the Leo Trio for music entertainment.
"This shop was our main source of income for the past 20 years," Greenleaf tells CultureMap. "I'll have to see how I will get back on my feet."
For the moment, Greenleaf has taken a job as a part-time pool cleaner to make ends meet.
It's too soon to tell if we'll ever see the Warehaus again — Greenleaf was only leasing the building, and didn't hold insurance on any of the goods inside (the business is still operating from TurningLeafFurniture.com).
The idea for the bar benefit came from mutual friends who'd collaborated with Greenleaf for over 10 years to host a children's cancer cook-off fundraiser at West Alabama Ice House. Family members, such as niece Nisyam Segal of Vieux, as well as bar owner P.J. Maeftro came forward to help the cause.
Gordon and Tara are also visual artists (he a photog, she a painter), and their current show at KAXM Gallery (1135 E. 11th St.) will also give the downtrodden duo a much-needed boost. There's also a Dec. 4 multifamily neighborhood garage sale in the works, to be held at 1322 Harvard St.
The cause of the fire is still ensconced in mystery.
"I don't want to talk too much about the investigation," Greenleaf says, "but there are a lot of indications and evidence from several observers that the fire was the result of a light fixture malfunction at Agora. Everyone's saying that it started in my store. Well, yes, but we're pretty certain that sparks came from Agora on Halloween night."
Agora owner Michael Sotiropoulos disputes that.
"From what I know, the fire started from the antique shop next door and not here," Sotiropoulos tells CultureMap. "It seemed like it started in the middle of the antique store, and it took awhile before the fire came to my property ... From what I know, the lights were in OK condition. They [Antiques Warehaus] change their story — first they say it was upstairs, then downstairs. That building was full of very flammable stuff."
The fire department's investigation is still incomplete.
"Hopefully everything will be sorted out sometime soon," Sotiropoulos says.