Amighini Architectural sits at the end of a fairly humdrum block in the Jersey City Heights like a cool hood ornament on an old jalopy. Gracefully curved wrought iron gates, fine wood doors, antiques, original ceramic tiles, moldings, stained glass domes, mantels, balconies, and fences are all displayed out front.
The Moltini family of Verona, Italy, has been going strong for 65 years, salvaging rare doors and other decorative pieces from exquisite buildings all over Europe and Argentina. Sales Manager Mariano Molteni says that he found his way to Jersey City because his wife was from New York City, and it would be hard to run this kind of operation from there.
When a house or castle in Europe has been emptied of furniture, the Moltenis spring into action. "Whatever is left, we take," Molteni says-"doors, fireplaces, chandeliers." In Verona, a staff of 24 salvages the pieces, and in Jersey City a staff of four restores them to their original elegance. "There's a story behind every piece," says Molteni. "They're not plastic-they have personality."
He explains that old wood is better than new because it's dry. "With the heat inside and the cold outside, new wood will start to twist," he says, "and the old wood is so solid that a nail will bend if you try to pound it in." He illustrates with a bent index finger.
The price range for a lovingly restored Amighini door is $1,000 to $15,000.
"I tell people to be ready for a big change," Molteni says. "Our doors are not like what you see everywhere else."
Amighini doors grace homes on a number of Jersey City streets-Bentley, Harrison, Seventh, Sussex, Third, Varick, and Warren, to name a few. Happy hunting.-KATE ROUNDS
PHOTOS: JOHN TICHENOR