Plain Influences – At Home

My parents liked the style of decor known as “Early American.” They had some really good furniture that they purchased through my grandfather, built in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, and based on Colonial and Early American design.

Moosehead chairs and cabinetmaker

The Moosehead factory was at 97 East Main Street, and my grandparents lived at 94 Summer Street. Dover-Foxcroft is in the “Yankee” part of Maine, south of Mount Katahdin. I grew up north of the mountain, in Caribou, Aroostook County, which is more Canadian.

The Moosehead furniture my parents purchased almost fifty years ago is now at my sister’s house in Bangor, on its third generation of use – and was sold by another generation before that.  I guess it is on its way to heirloom status.

Royal China, "Bucks County"

My parents didn’t hang onto this though, and it is too bad, because I still like these patterns and they are now quite collectable. The one with the yellow background is called Bucks County, and is a rather loose interpretation of Pennsylvania Dutch style. I believe it was sold by the piece at Woolworth’s, one of our local chain department stores. Woolworth’s was one of the old”Five and Dime” stores where one could buy glassware, socks, toys, kitchen items, and sewing notions. My paternal grandmother worked down the street at J.C. Penney’s, a clothier who also had mail order items. My maternal grandmother worked for a time at another five and dime, Newbury’s, in Dover-Foxcroft. She also worked for the grocery stores from time to time, including as a butcher. A&P stores carried this pattern of dishes as a premium.

Royal China, "Colonial Homestead"

Some of it may have been gifts from my grandmother. I had a couple of pieces I bought in an antique shop, but passed them along when we were downsizing the household.  “Colonial Homestead” has images of different domestic scenes of early life in New England.

The tilt-top table was still popular in New England homes into the twentieth century; I remember examples in older homes. Here it is shown as a chair; if one needed an extra dining table, the back swung down.

This spinning wheel looks very much like the one I own, built around 1880.

I don’t know if the artist who designed this series went to a colonial museum to draft the illustrations, but I suspect he did. He may have gone to Historic Deerfield, a “village” of 11 authentic Colonial houses. (http://historic-deerfield.org.)

Ashley House, Deerfield

Plimouth Plantation is another source for very early Colonial material. (http://www.plimouth.org). We visited Plimouth Plantation and the Mayflower when I was a child, and it was very exciting for me.

Living history at Plimouth, ca. 1627

Some of my ancestors were in the Massachusetts Bay Colony by the 1640s, although they were not Puritans (“Pilgrims”). They may have lived much as the settlers at Plimouth did.

I will write more on these topics soon; let me know if you have questions or topics to include.

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2 thoughts on “Plain Influences – At Home

    • American furniture makers copied English designs well into the nineteenth century. Thus, there are lots of “Chippendale” and “Windsor” style furniture from the early years of the republic. The chief differences would have been in choice of materials and in simplifying some of the design elements. Craftsmanship in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries was exceptional, too.

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