Save the Biltmore Preservationists Acquire Vintage Belleview Biltmore Furniture
Photo courtesy of www.SaveTheBiltmore.com
Save the Biltmore Preservationists, a nonprofit organization, is pleased to announce that they just acquired "Old Hickory" vintage furniture that was in the Belleview Biltmore Hotel from around the 1920's to the 1930's. The chest and mirror and other Biltmore furniture were sold and removed when the hotel became a World War II barracks for military personnel. Save the Biltmore Preservationists received the vintage furniture from Clearwater resident, Dell Valentine Kelleher, who donated it to them. Ms. Kelleher's grandmother owned it after it was removed from the hotel.
Here is the history behind the furniture. In the 19th century Bill Richard made and sold hickory chairs in the Town Square in Martinsville, Indiana. "Old Hickory" furniture (honoring President Jackson) came into being in a church in 1892. In 1898, a full line of furniture products was shipped to homes and resorts. There were multiple makers/owners of "Old Hickory" over time. Early Arts & Crafts mission furniture makers may have received many of their concepts while visiting the Martinsville "Old Hickory" production. The earlier woods used were hickory, while later woods were oak, chestnut, and pine. One of the most popular variations is rustic log style. Many homes, resorts, and national park lodges use both old and new variations of "Old Hickory" furniture. A few owners of "Old Hickory" include Old Faithful Inn, Grove Park Inn, Camp David, the Disney Rainforest Cafe, and celebrities Dolly Parton, Robert Redford, Barbra Streisand, and Oprah Winfrey.
The Belleview Biltmore hickory chest of drawers has an early mark (later variations had bronze and paper tags) and is an example of historic Mission/Arts and Crafts style furniture. Hickory is the heaviest and hardest of all American hardwoods, and it was used by the American Arts and Crafts movement, Amish furniture makers, pioneer wagon wheels, and on the Wright brothers' Flying Machine. The vintage furniture is a heavy, well-built, solid wood, utilitarian chest of drawers with hand cut half-blind dovetails and solid glue joints. The finish is worn, with some small chips, and various board-to-board glued edges have separated. The chest and mirror could be restored, but then it would lose the wear and tear history of life at the Biltmore. A woodworker experienced with hickory wood could duplicate this basic design.
Their vintage Biltmore chest has four drawers with carved hickory nut knobs and the 31" x 25" mirror has horizontal sections (rails) with hickory nut incised carvings. The frame (carcass) has horizontal and vertical routed moldings, 43" vertical sections (stiles), 38" horizontal sections (rails) and is 20" in depth. The top-drawer front has opposing "rustic" style V shaped routings cut into the front face and measures 30x18x7". The next drawer measures 30x18x8" and the two bottom drawers measure 30x18x9". The piece is signed "Old Hickory, Martinsville, Ind. Dusty Acorn." The date is unknown, but could be in the 1920's to 1930's but it is before World War II. The entire package measures 20x38x43" and weighs approximately 150 pounds. Some early records of the first "Old Hickory" furniture were unfortunately destroyed when the original furniture company burned down. The chest and mirror are currently being kept in safe storage for future Biltmore preservation efforts.
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