Beautifully Bizarre

The Place Upstairs

Catherine D. Anspon
October 30, 2013

So reads the tagline for The Place Upstairs, and we couldn’t agree more. Cue the curated and artful eyes of owners Laura Levine and Mike Hildebrand; the pair have made a name for themselves as well-edited vintage players — witness their other endeavor, the still-going-strong Replay on 19th in the Heights. But for this duo, the newly minted Midtown by-appointment and evening-houred space (open Thursdays and Saturdays, 8 pm to 1 am, plus first Thursdays and Fridays, and second Tuesdays, to take advantage of their location upstairs from The Continental Club) is their most personal project ever. This latest vintage venture reflects a collecting acumen — others would call it obsession — that dates back to Hildebrand’s childhood as the son of Houston pickers and thrifters and Levine’s previous go at selling privately from her River Oaks apartment, which later segued into a shop. Forsaking the expected ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s memorabilia, The Place Upstairs presents the arcane, the dainty and disturbing, doses of the macabre and some truly beautiful Victoriana, including the most perfect pair of lady’s high-top shoes (Friedman Shelby, St. Louis) we’ve ever glimpsed and some exquisitely preserved turn-of-the-century lace-and-beribboned frocks that look like they came straight from a museum. Also notable are creepy medical instruments and devices, an array of taxidermy, late 19th-century/early 20th-century beaded evening handbags in immaculate condition, a Japanese rickshaw driver’s outfit from between the wars, collectible early-20th-century photography and an original Prince’s carhop uniform, all shiny red and white satin. The space for this commercial endeavor perfectly matches its contents — the 500-square-foot, circa -1930s, time-capsule interior above Main Street that was once home to an early typing school. “I feel like I’m in the adoption biz, finding new homes for these treasures,” says proprietress Miz Levine. 3708 Main St., above The Continental Club;