I had the opportunity to visit the Jim Henson Carriage House recently on a brief trip to New York City on my way home from an artist residency at the MacDowell Colony.
The Henson Carriage House is located on the Upper East Side of NYC and was the original office of the Muppets.
It was purchased by Jim and Jane Henson upon their move to New York in the 1960's when the Muppets were still a largely unknown brand.
Before it became The Jim Henson Company, the company was called "Henson Associates" and abbreviated as "ha!"
This little bit of history is right above the front door to the Carriage House.
The Carriage House is generally not open to the public, but I had the opportunity to see it because I used to work for Heather Henson's Ibex Puppetry as the Puppet Slam Network coordinator (though I really preferred the title "puppet slam overlord.")
Heather Henson owns the carriage house now and Ibex Puppetry's offices are based there. I believe the Jim Henson Legacy is also based out of the carriage house.
The place is packed with Muppet history and has been used for TV and film production as well as a photography studio. It's a three-story building so there is a lot of stuff to explore.
I got a little emotional seeing it all. The old pictures, the sets, the studio, the historic feeling to it all. I could have opened boxes and explored its nooks and crannies all day.
But my friend was giving me the tour and it was a work day for her, so I had to contain my excitement and my nosey tendencies.
Many famous publicity photos of the Muppets were photographed at the Carriage House.
There are many shelves lined with many, many VHS tapes, which really look like antiques now.
The Carriage House could probably be made into a small Jim Henson Museum. There are so many little treasures in there!
Since there is a production studio in the back, Ibex Puppetry hosts week-long residencies for local puppetry artists. It's a really great way to carry on the art form in a historic space, and Heather Henson is very generous in her support of the puppetry arts.
The Puppetry Guild of Greater New York also uses the Carriage House for their meetings and events.
Just down the block from the carriage house is a little easter egg that most people probably don't notice when walking by.
There is an imprint in the cement of Kermit the Frog's feet from back when the Henson's owned more property on the block.
The footprints are now partially covered by the front door of a spin studio.
Thanks a lot, urban sprawl.
But you can find them if you know where to look.
I definitely recommend going to the Jim Henson exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, if you're visiting NYC!