Emptied out: Old holiday decorations removed from the former Cooper Decoration Company warehouse

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This sign once read “Coopers Decorations”

The holiday season is upon us; you can see it all around you. Here in Syracuse one business specialized in bringing you those sights for over 70 years, the Cooper Decoration Company. The decorations that came out of their former warehouse, located on the Eastside, filled the streets of Syracuse and several local towns each winter.

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This week those decorations came out of the warehouse one final time. Workers have been instructed to clean out the warehouse in order to better assess the structural integrity of the building.

I learned about the work happening at the warehouse when I was visiting the building to complete a story last week. I had knocked on a neighbor’s door, who shared the little known information. This week I returned to the building, lucky enough to hear some stories and catch a glimpse of the past.

A decorative tree remains on the building

One man working inside the building is Gregory Jones. A handy man hired to help clean out the warehouse. About 30 years ago, Jones was actually employed at the Cooper Decoration Company. He and his brother worked in the building, often taking care of the carpets that laid close by inside the doors as we talked. Jones remembers the carpets being used at events all over Onondaga County. He can remember transporting them to be used at the yearly Auto Expo at the Oncenter. Decades later he is back in the warehouse, removing them for good.

While Gregory and others were working to clear the building, two men, were hauling away some of the remaining decorations, Tony Liberatore and Anthony Crimi. Tony and Anthony had spoken with representatives for the owner who had allowed them to take the decorations for a fee.

Tony Liberatore, who is the Production Manager for Fright Nights at the New York State Fair, is hoping to refurbish the decorations he acquired for a scary Christmas display at CNY’s largest and spookiest haunted attraction that operates each fall. Tony said he is glad he had the opportunity to save the pieces he can from ruin, adding that “It’s all Syracuse decorations, and they will stay in Syracuse.”

Anthony Crimi owns and operates Vintage Dust of New York, an internet business that specializes in vintage American made items from the early 1900’s to the 1970’s. He started the business three years ago, after he found himself out of work and having to sell some of his personal collectables, quickly realizing there was a market to capitalize on.

Anthony Crimi stands with a Santa display
Anthony Crimi stands with a Santa display he purchased

Living on Onondaga Hill and operating mostly on eBay, Anthony envisions the items he is saving being purchased by customers downstate and in New Jersey, mainly by extreme home holiday decorators or a municipality. Anthony said he doesn’t know what the future holds for the warehouse, but added “For the sake of the Eastside, let’s hope something comes in next.”

Countless displays that once lit the city streets, now being removed from a decaying building. The memories remain, and now so will some of the decorative pieces.


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