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Vintage Garden Furniture Outlasts Makers

If you've ever lusted after genuine wrought iron garden furniture from the '30s and '40s, but struggled to find a source, here's a chance to score some choice pieces at a huge discount.

Tucked away on an empty lot off Main Avenue in Norwalk, Conn. next to an awning shop, Pat Torraco has put half-price stickers on his entire stock of vintage outdoor furniture. Why? Because he's moving his business to a barn next to his house. He'd rather sell it than move it. "It's extremely heavy," he says, with a grin.

Torraco started his second career 20 years ago, collecting and selling vintage ironwork. During his senior year in high school, he earned a place at art college but decided he wanted to work instead. He set himself up as a hairdresser. "I stepped away from the chair after 25 years," Torraco says. "I wanted to do something in the fresh air."

Drawing on his artistic talent, he started refinishing and distressing furniture, quickly realizing that it wasn't his niche. "I never knew when I was finished!" he says. At the same time, he'd been collecting wrought iron furniture, attracted by the delicately scrolled leaves and intricate patterns. The chairs and tables reminded him of sculptures.

Torraco has a glass-topped table for four with matching chairs for around $200. There are sets with six chairs, too. He even has pieces from famous designers, such as John Salterini . He also has armchairs, swivel chairs and bar stools, as well as unusual pieces, such as a wrought iron bed from a convent. Some of his pieces have been refinished, but he shies away from powder coating. He likes wrought iron to look like wrought iron. "Just look at this piece - they can't do this today," Torraco says. "To last this long... it's no wonder they [ironworkers] all went out of business."

You'll find Pat Torraco at 127 Main Avenue, Norwalk. Give him a call at (203) 216-1982 to check his hours of operation. Driving directions to Torraco's are easy. Take the Hutchinson Parkway to the Merritt Parkway and come off at exit 40A. You'll be on Main Avenue. Head south. Torraco's is on the right.

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