When the time came for him to depart the mortal realm, Patrick Dunne thought he knew exactly how he would leave.
“I always figured they would cart me out of the shop feet first in a French chair,” said Dunne, the longtime proprietor of the French Quarter’s stylish antiques store, Lucullus. “Instead, I am leaping feet first into the great unknown.”
After 35 years in business, Dunne is moving to a space in Bywater, where he plans to offer a more contemporary inventory. He has entrusted Mary Hines and Gail Bergin, of H&H Estate Sales, to host a pre-move sale.
The sale takes place at the store, 610 Chartres St., from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. According to Hines, Dunne’s entire inventory of culinary antiques, art, antique linens, garden items and accessories will be on sale, as will items from Dunne’s warehouse and personal collection.
“Lord knows I've had a marvelous time of it,” Dunne said. “But I feel ready for something new. We plan a move to my Kentucky Street warehouse where we’ll periodically host curated sales of fresh and stylish antiques aimed at contemporary tastes. The plan is for an environment that’s a little more hip and a little less formal.”
The “we” Dunne referred to is the Lucullus staff, including Nathan Drewes and Kerry Moody.
“Nathan is my partner in the design business, and that’s what we plan to expand in our new location. Kerry knows how to arrange things to make them look fabulous. In the beginning, we chose Chartres Street over Royal because we wanted the place to be playful and not so somber,” he said.
In his work with interiors, Dunne was an early champion of color, especially hues that draw from the city’s Creole past.
“White is just fine for the Acropolis and for God to use on snow,” quipped Dunne. “But it isn’t for me.”
A native of Corpus Christi, Texas, Dunne said Elvis Presley’s film “King Creole” was one of two impressions he had of the city before he moved here nearly 50 years ago. The other was a pair of vases that his grandmother had bought at Waldhorn Antiques.
“She would have friends over to see the vases because she was told they had belonged to Carlota, the ‘mad’ Empress of Mexico,” Dunne said. “She would say, ‘And here are the vases that belonged to Carlota,’ and gesture grandly toward them. Between Elvis Presley and the image of poor crazy Carlota dragging her queenly gowns through the streets of the city to pawn her vases at Waldhorn, I found the lure of New Orleans irresistible.”
That’s pretty much how the city has responded to Dunne and his culinary antiques emporium, as much for his clever insights (“Curmudgeonry suits me”) as for the extraordinary finds he has brought into his shop to the delight of his clientele.
“It has been my great pleasure to find things that people love and feel passionate about,” he said. “That has been my agenda — besides selling stuff and making money. I think old things, antiques, help anchor people to a broader perspective of their past and of the world’s past. And when they find something that appeals to them and use it, it becomes part of the story of their lives.”