You could say Havertown interior designer Michael Gruber took a gamble with this project: creating an old-time parlor, gallery and saloon to display his clients’ collection of more than 950 antique gaming items. When the collection outgrew the 14-by-19-foot Victorian parlor, left, Gruber, working with Rachel Schade, AIA, a partner at Philadelphia’s Schade and Bolender Architects, and Cherokee Construction in Philadelphia, added a 25-by-40-foot gallery, below, as well as a balcony and a lower-level saloon.
Gruber researched American Old West gambling halls to get the right feel for the spaces. “It is important to establish as much context as possible in evoking the period and place to highlight the collection,” he says.
Most of the 19th-century casino games still work, including faro, chuck-a-luck, roulette and grand hazard. Bets are placed with mother-of-pearl chips from the largest known set of its kind. In the center of the gallery, one of the first slot machines produced sits on a table alongside an antique keno wheel from South America, which was used to play a game similar to bingo.