Monday, January 23, 2012

His Style, Her Style, Their Style

Nadia Bishai and Hisham Modine furnished their duplex with art she collected on her travels and tables and chairs of his design. More Photos »

The brownstone at 127 St. James Place in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, boasted a lustrous pedigree. Its elderly owner, Adele Premice, was the daughter of Lucas Premice, a Haitian aristocrat who fled to the United States in the early 20th century. Her younger sister, the glamorous actress Josephine Premice, reigned for decades as the toast of Broadway.

Well into the 21st century, Adele was still ensconced in the building, long known as Little Haiti. Her rooms overflowed with Haitian art and were redolent of the expensive perfume she loved. But as she aged, so did the building where she had lived since the 1940s. Water poured through collapsing ceilings. Gaping holes in the floors made every step treacherous. The rear garden grew wild as a jungle.
The summer day in 2007 that Hisham Modine saw a “For Sale” on the crumbling facade, few traces of the brownstone’s glory days remained.
Mr. Modine, who had moved to New York from Egypt to study architecture at nearby Pratt Institute, was nonetheless intrigued. He had a deep fondness for Brooklyn: ever since 1990, when a taxi dropped him off in front of his Pratt dorm with $50 in his pocket, he had lived only in that borough.

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