Scene maker left mark on stage and at home

Goshen. Nino Novellino created scenery for Broadway, opera, ballet and his house in Goshen, which is now for sale.

| 25 Jul 2022 | 01:01

In 1976, artist and sculptor Nino Novellino and his wife, Mary, moved from Manhattan into a classic Victorian home in Goshen, at 313 Main Street. Both loved their purchase, as now they were able to upgrade, decorate and enhance the Victorian features of the home that, as a true Victorian, was built in 1897.

The Novellinos made a second purchase that same year, buying the Manhattan-based company, Costume Armour Inc., from their bosses, Peter and Katie Feller. Eventually they moved the company to Cornwall, NY.

Working side by side, Nino and Mary created sculptures and props for theatrical productions, going on to build a successful company. Mary died of an aneurysm 16 years later, but the company continued to grow. Nino’s creations appeared in hundreds of Broadway productions, including “Man of La Mancha” and “Phantom of the Opera,” and in performances of the New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, the Royal Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and Martha Graham Dance Company.

The Metropolitan Opera and New York City Opera used his artwork. as did Las Vegas productions and all four Disney theme parks. Universal Studios, too, employed him to create sculptures, props and set pieces. His work has also appeared in movies and television. What was his favorite show that he worked on? “Sunset Boulevard;” the stage adaptation that premiered in 1993.

According to Nino’s sister, Rosemary Novellino-Mearns, when Nino bought the home, it had been modernized with lower ceilings, a traditional kitchen, and a pull-down ladder to access the attic. The carriage house in the backyard was “just a shack,” she said.

Nino turned the “shack” into a two-story Victorian with a turret, cupola on the roof, round-top windows and a porch. He populated the yard with life-size statues and a large Victorian-themed working fountain with statue on top, an eye-catching showpiece. An assortment of smaller statues are perched on the porch roof facing the yard.

Inside the house, Nino replaced the pull-down ladder with a full set of stairs leading up to the attic, which, after Nino’s improvements, is now referred to as the third floor, with covered beams, carpeted floor, ½ bath, wet bar, and a brass spiral staircase leading to a cupola. The finished painted walls display classical Victorian artwork. This attic became the setting for frequent socializing.

Said Novellino-Mearns, “The attic was his party room, for entertaining, and for watching television when he wanted to be off by himself for a while. As for his parties, Nino always had a theme, such as Venice or Paris, and he always came dressed for the occasion, as when he appeared as French artist Toulouse-Lautrec. A party highlight was when he surprised his guests by riding into the backyard on a live camel for his ‘Scheherazade’ themed-party. He took lessons to learn how to ride it.”

Novellino’s hobby was collecting antiques, and his home was lavishly decorated with them. After his death on June 11, 2021, with most of his antiques sold at auctions houses, the rooms are now mainly empty. However, many of his Victorian touches are still visible, like fabric on the walls in the living room and separate parlor, plush wall-to-wall carpeting on floors, marble tops in the bathrooms and kitchen, glass chandeliers hanging from the ceilings in most rooms and cherubs gracing doorway corners.

“Nino wanted to create beauty—on the stage and in his home,” said Novellino-Mearns, author of the book, Saving Radio City Music Hall: A Dancer’s True Story. For many years, she performed as a ballerina at Radio City Music Hall.

“He paid attention to details,” said Linda Clark, the realtor with Griffith Olivero Realtors in Goshen, who is selling the house . She noted the full wall built-in period bookcase in the upstairs library, wine cellar in the basement with a bar, surrounded by exposed stone and brick walls. “Harper’s Bazaar” magazine asked to stage a photo shoot in the house.

Nino Novellino was born on June 25, 1940 and died from complications of Myasthenia Gravis at age 80. He graduated with honors from Pratt Institute in New York, and in 2004 he received the Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award for sculpture in the theater. He was president of Costume Armour, having created stage pieces for 50 years. The company continues to do theatrical artwork.

“Nino was generous to a fault, funny and sarcastic, clever and smart. He was loved and admired, not only for his talent, but also for himself,” said Novellino-Mearns.

Nino turned the “shack” into a two-story Victorian with a turret, cupola on the roof, round-top windows and a porch. He populated the yard with life-size statues and a large Victorian-themed working fountain with statue on top