Revered yoga teacher and wellness enthusiast Jane Beltz has realized a dream by rejuvenating the main floor of the historic Union Hall building in North Salem, a bucolic Westchester town about an hour outside NYC.
As it was in the mid 19th century, it begins a new life as a General Store of sorts, but this time with a decidedly modern sensibility.
The concept is simple: a trove of small quantities of handcrafted, rare artisanal items of local provenance and from around the world, in a warm, comfortable environment where community members are encouraged to meet and linger.
Guided by a reverence for things that are crafted, harvested, and refined by the hands of conscientious and devoted craftspeople, she brought in New England-based design team Emma and Nick Sainz-Xatzis to re-imagine the store's interior and identity.
And so the three began a synergistic collaboration, traveling together to build relationships with fabricators and artisans both here and abroad. They continue to bring the ideas and traditions they encounter back home to integrate them with the rich tapestry of the store.
The building itself was built in 1848, and has gone through many incarnations since. So after peeling back a layer or two of the main floor’s interior, the design team went to work restoring and bringing the space a new vitality using traditional materials and techniques. As is the case with the inventory, they favor the essential and least processed materials; reclaimed local woods, stone, handblown glass and bronze. For those who spend most of their time in the nearby urban world of shiny, synthetic materials Union Hall will be a refreshing celebration of the flaws and imperfections of a human-made environment.
Here is a place where sensory pleasures abound. There are objects of stunning visual beauty, transcendent scents, luxuriant textures and rarified flavors. From buttery soft yangir stoles (a rare and much finer cousin of cashmere) woven in France at a 7th generation textile mill to hand spun wool apparel from rural Uruguay. From organic, ceremonial tobacco products grown by Canadian Native Americans to olive oil soaps from the deserts of Syria. From Japanese chefs' knives forged by disciplined descendants of Feudal era swordsmiths to handmade Danish candles, to the embroidered linens found on the tables of European royalty. .
In addition, the store has a carefully curated selection of fine foods, which are chosen with the same care as the tinctures and herbal remedies filling the store’s. Union Hall will continue its mission to treat food as medicine, and explore treatment and wellness through the inherited wisdom of various cultures. The team is now developing a line of some of the finest therapeutic distilled essential oils, spices and herbs available anywhere.
And more is on the way as Jane and her team keep traveling and building fair-trade relationships with farmers, craftspeople and other like-minded souls who have a nose for the authentic.