Ithaca, N.Y. — After nearly two months of restoration, the Titus Gallery is reopening its doors. The gallery, which is located immediately adjacent to Simeon’s Restaurant on the Commons, sustained serious damage in the June 20 tractor trailer crash on the Commons.

Since the crash, the gallery’s owner Susan Booth Titus and the gallery’s manager (and life-partner to the owner) Matthew Peterson have been cleaning out and rebuilding.

Related: The other side of the wall: Inside Titus Gallery when ‘everything changed’ in a second

Although they’ve had to do much of the work themselves, they say they’ve had the help of insurance contractors and the Downtown Ithaca Alliance.

Matthew Peterson

The Good News

The ground floor of the Titus Gallery has been completely cleaned, restored, and is now open to customers. Matthew Peterson has personally overseen all repairs to the shop’s interior.

The imploded wall has been repaired, the carpets have been replaced and the interior has been repainted. Glass display cases which were shattered by bricks in the crash have been repaired and mirrors have been replaced. Antiques and art are back on display.

Peterson, who was the only person in the store at the moment of the crash, is greeting customers from his post behind the counter.

The gallery was badly damaged in the crash.

The Titus Gallery will be participating in the First Friday Gallery Night on September 5. The gallery’s theme for the night will be “A Celebration of Our Lakes” and its show will consist of oil paintings, water colors, silk screens, and limited edition prints of Cayuga and other lakes.

September 5 will also be the gallery’s Grand Reopening.


Work remains

Although Peterson seems optimistic about the gallery’s future, he also says that there is still plenty of work to be done. He took me to see the gallery’s second floor storage space, which is filled with valuable items damaged in the crash.

Iconic Indian figurines crowd the floor, dust and soot ingrained into their pores. African antiques from the early 1800s, once displayed in museums, now lay splintered in boxes.

“When you’ve got dust and smoke from brick and mortar that’s so thick that you can hardly see in front of your face, it does a lot damage,” Peterson said. “And that’s not to mention the stuff that gets damaged from flying debris.”

Peterson said that he and the store’s owner, Susan Booth Titus, are still in the process of making an inventory of the artwork and estimating the damage in dollars.

“A lot of the artwork was damaged or destroyed, but I don’t have an amount yet,” Peterson said.

Although the gallery’s insurance offered to send the antiques away for repair, Peterson has elected to keep the damaged items in the shop. He said that he wanted to be sure that already-damaged antiques would not be further damaged by improper cleaning.

“Everything’s gotta be cleaned differently and a lot of people don’t know how to do it. It’s no big deal. It just takes time,” Peterson said.

Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.