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Renaissance for Dery mansion?

A spate of recent construction activity around the stately, impressive Dery mansion, 520 Fifth St., Catasauqua, has neighbors wondering if the building will finally be renovated and repurposed.

During the past 20 years, a couple of efforts to refurbish the mansion have been unsuccessful.

The mansion was built around 1910 by Desiderius George Dery, born in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire in 1867. The near palace-like structure reportedly has 56 rooms, an indoor pool, a private pub, an art gallery and more.

Dery was, at one time, the largest silk manufacturer in the world. Based on hard work and a single-minded impulse to succeed, he experienced a remarkable rise in his industry.

He also experienced a remarkable business fall after a failed attempt to corner the international silk market after World War I. His misguided efforts ended in allegations of personal corruption and financial decline that resulted in the loss of his business.

Dery’s phenomenal success included establishing 42 silk mills located up and down the east coast of the United States. During its heyday, the mills employed about 10,000 workers.

After his business misfortune, in part due to his rush for even greater success and its potential greater financial rewards, Dery and his daughter moved to a modest house across the street from the mansion. He simply could no longer afford to live in the mansion, which slowly entered a state of decay.

Herve Rousseau, a French restaurateur of note, hopes to refurbish the mansion. Rousseau founded the successful avant-garde Flute Bar & Lounge, located in New York City.

When reached by The Press, Rousseau said he is renovating, repainting and making cosmetic improvements.

“I hope we can get it back to its former splendor,” Rousseau said.

He noted his challenge in reclaiming the Dery mansion’s past glory is finding the right investors who share his appreciation of the mansion and his plans to return it to its former grandeur. Those investors, according to Rousseau, are those who also see the economic potential of the mansion.

Rousseau envisions a “must-visit” landmark location to hold wedding receptions, galas, parties, private and public events and other activities that capture the stately ambience of a truly recognizable historical landmark. Also, Rousseau is considering an attractive addition of a bed-and-breakfast component within the mansion.

Should Rousseau find the necessary investors by year’s end, a renovation of the mansion could be in concert with Catasauqua’s planned Iron Works project and other public projects already underway.

PRESS PHOTOS BY BILL LEINER JR. The Dery mansion, 520 Fifth St., Catasauqua, built by D. George Dery, a once-wealthy businessman, has languished in a state of disrepair for decades. Herve Rousseau is planning to repurpose the mansion, provided financing becomes available.
The mansion reportedly has 56 rooms, an indoor pool, a private pub, an art gallery and more. Rousseau, the owner of Flute Bar & Lounge in New York City, hopes to invoke a renaissance for the building.